The World Health Organization states that it is theoretically possible to eliminate malaria, but probably not with the imperfect vaccine and other control methods currently in use.
Dr. Pedro Alonso, global director of malaria at the United Nations agency, said that the OMS is "unequivocally in favor" of eradication, but important questions remain about its feasibility.
In a press conference on Thursday, Alonso acknowledged that "with the tools we have today, it is very likely that eradication will be achieved".
Alonso was presenting the results of a report commissioned by the WHO to assess whether malaria eradication should be pursued.
He said the experts concluded that the persistent uncertainties meant that they were unable to formulate a clear strategy and therefore could not propose a definitive timeline or an estimate of the costs for eradication.
The OMS has long struggled with the idea of erasing malaria from the planet. An eradication campaign was first attempted in 1955 before being abandoned more than a dozen years later.
For decades, health officials have been punished by even discussing eradication – until the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation threw its considerable resources behind the idea.
Smallpox is the only human disease that has ever been eradicated. In 1988, the WHO and partners began a global campaign aimed at wiping out polio by 2000.
Despite numerous effective vaccines and billions of dollars invested, efforts have stopped in recent years and officials have repeatedly missed the eradication targets.
Although several African countries have begun to immunize children against malaria in national programs this year, the shooting protects only about a third of the children who get it.
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The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people each year, mainly children in Africa.
"An effective vaccine is something we desperately need if we always have malaria under control and we don't have it," said Alister Craig, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
A previous study showed that the vaccine was about 30% effective in children who received four doses, but that protection has decreased over time.
Craig also raised doubts that malaria programs would be able to increase the billions needed due to other competing eradication campaigns, such as those for polio, guinea pig and lymphatic filariasis.
"Should we really push for malaria or should we focus on eliminating some of those other diseases first?" churches.