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Malaria is a preventable and curable life-threatening disease caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to people through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Worldwide there are around 228 million cases of malaria a year (2018) with 405,000 deaths (2018).
Children under 5 years are the most vulnerable group and accounted for 67% of all malaria deaths worldwide in 2018.
Pregnant women, patients with HIV/AIDS and non-immune migrants, mobile populations and travellers are also at higher risk.
The WHO African Region has a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden and in 2018 had 93% of malaria cases and 94% of malaria deaths. (The reason for this is in part connected with the longer lifespan of the mosquito in Africa and the mosquitos prefer to bite humans rather than other animals.) (Figure 1, Map 1)
An antimalarial programme includes
- Reducing the mosquito population by reducing opportunities for the mosquito to lay its eggs in water for reproduction
- Controlling the vector mosquito through indoor residual spraying with insecticides and insecticide-treated mosquito nets
- Chemoprophylaxis with antimalarial medicines
- Ensuring early diagnosis and treatment
Insecticide and antimalarial drug resistance are growing threats to the control and management of the disease and WHO strategy now urges malaria elimination e.g. the Strategy for malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong subregion (2015 – 2030) (See further reading)
The WHO Global Malaria Programme is responsible for co-ordinating WHOs’s global efforts to control and eliminate malaria, the work being guided by the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016 – 2030. The global targets are
- Reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90%
- Reducing malaria mortality rates by at least 90%
- Eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries
- Preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free
WHO Video on key features of malaria
WHO : Malaria, Key Facts
WHO : World Malaria Report, 2019
WHO : Malaria eradication : benefits, future scenarios & feasibility
WHO : Global Technical Strategy for malaria 2016 – 2030
WHO : Strategy for malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong Subregion (2015 – 2030)
WHO : Detailed description of malaria
Malaria Elimination and Eradication : Chapter 12, Major Infectious Diseases, 3rd Edition NCBI
WHO : About the WHO Global Malaria Programme