Scientists say transmission rates of malaria, that kills an estimated 1.2 million people around the globe each year, can be reduced beyond a threshold of 90 per cent; the organism could be eradicated from most areas where it is still prevalent in 10 to 15 years.

It is found that more than 90 per cent of fatalities occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Scientists hope that such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia are most likely to succeed in ridding themselves of the disease. Those plagued by systemic poverty and unstable governments, such as Angola, Chad and Somalia, were expected to find the task much more difficult. Countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, which suffer from the twin burdens of political instability and weak health systems can be, hit the worst.

''In general, elimination from countries in the Americas is most feasible using current tools, and least feasible for most sub-Saharan countries,'' said Dr Andrew Tatem, from the University of Florida in Gainesville, US and a team of international experts writing in a special edition of The Lancet medical journal.

Dr Tatem and University of Florida colleague Professor David Smith led the project to map and model the spread of P. falciparum.

The researchers have based their predictions on the parasite's regional intrinsic ability to transmit to human hosts. Prof Smith said the malaria's parasite's fortunes tended to follow those of the human populations it infected.

Nowhere was this more obvious than in Africa, a continent plagued by poverty and conflict. ''Civil and economic strife is always good for malaria and bad for people,'' said Prof Smith.

He noted that some African nations, such as Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana, are in a better position than others to fight malaria. To date, researchers note that a total of 108 countries around the world had eliminated malaria.

Researchers noted that thirty-two of the 99 countries where malaria was still endemic had started to eliminate the disease. A growing problem was the rise of drug-resistant malaria, especially in the region encompassing Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam.

South-east Asia and countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador were constantly exposed to the parasite.

The authors concluded: ''Our analysis represents a starting point, and it now needs more critical use and adaptation to meet the agenda of international agencies that govern priority-setting for malaria control.''