Today is World Malaria Day, and this year, the global theme is ‘End Malaria for Good’.
Malaria is a preventable and curable disease transmitted through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Among the five parasite species that cause malaria in humans, two pose the greatest threat:
- P. falciparum: is responsible for 99% of malaria deaths globally. It is the most prevalent malaria parasite on the African continent.
- P. vivax: is the dominant malaria parasite in most countries outside of subSaharan Africa.
Despite considerable progress, malaria continues to kill more than 400 000 people annually.
In 2015, there were 212 million new cases of malaria and 429,000 deaths. One child dies from malaria every two minutes.
On a global scale, new malaria cases fell by 21% between 2010 and 2015. Malaria death rates fell by 29% in the same 5-year period.
Since 2000, malaria prevention has played an important role in reducing cases and deaths, primarily through the scale up of insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying with insecticides.
Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) are the mainstay of malaria prevention efforts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are designed to kill mosquitoes for 3 years, after which time they need to be replaced.
WHO recommends LLIN coverage for all people at risk of malaria.
Indoor residual spraying (IRS) is another powerful way to rapidly reduce malaria transmission. It involves spraying insecticides on indoor walls and ceilings where malaria carrying mosquitoes are likely to rest after biting household occupants.
To confer significant community protection, at least 80% of homes in targeted areas should be sprayed. IRS is effective for 3–6 months, depending on the insecticide formulation used and the type of surface that is sprayed.
In areas with high malaria transmission, young children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria infection and death. In 2015, more than two thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occurred among children under 5.
WHO-recommended preventive therapies against malaria currently include:
- Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp);
- Intermittent preventive treatment in infancy (IPTi);
- Seasonal chemoprevention for children under 5 years of age (SMC).
These safe, cost-effective strategies are recommended in sub-Saharan Africa in areas of moderate-to-high malaria transmission. They are designed to complement ongoing malaria control activities, including core vector control measures (LLINs and IRS), prompt diagnosis of suspected malaria and treatment of confirmed cases with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).
WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for a 40% reduction in malaria cases and deaths by 2020, compared to 2015 baseline levels. The short-term goals for 2020 are:
Less than half (40) of the world’s 91 countries with malaria transmission are on track to achieve these milestones.
Progress has been particularly slow in low-income countries with a high malaria burden.
To speed progress towards these global targets, WHO is calling on malaria-affected countries and their development partners to boost investments in malaria prevention.
In parallel, the Organization is calling for greater funding for the development, evaluation and deployment of new tools.
Robust investments in malaria prevention and in new tools will propel countries along the path to elimination while also contributing to other Sustainable Development Goals, such as improving maternal and child health.
Link to WHO’s World Malaria Day website:
Link to WHO news release on occasion of World Malaria Day 2017:
Link to WHO World Malaria Day 2017 Campaign page:
Link to WHO publication ‘Malaria Prevention Works: Let’s Close the Gap’ released for World Malaria Day 2017 (English) [PDF]:
Link to summary of the above document (English) [PDF]:
Link to updated WHO fact sheet on Malaria (updated 24 April 2017):
Link to WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 (multiple languages):
Links to Infographics for World Malaria Day 2017:
Link to 10 year review of malaria:
Link to Guidelines for treatment of malaria 3rd Edition (English) [PDF]:
Link to World Malaria Report 2016:
Link to summary of the above report (English) [PDF]:
Link to WHO Quiz on Malaria: