Malaria

Fact Sheet: World Malaria Day 2016

20 April 2016

Malaria is an entirely preventable and treatable mosquito-borne illness. In 2015, 95 countries and territories had ongoing malaria transmission and an estimated 3.2 billion people – nearly half the world’s population – were at risk of malaria.

Global disease burden in 2015

There were an estimated 214 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, and an estimated 438 000 deaths. Approximately 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa.

In 2015, an estimated 292 000 African children died before their fifth birthday due to malaria. Globally, the disease caused an estimated 306 000 under-five deaths in 2015.

Between 2000 and 2015, an expansion of malaria interventions helped to reduce malaria incidence by 37% globally, and by 42% in Africa.

During the same period, malaria mortality rates decreased by an estimated 60% worldwide and by 66% in Africa. In the under-five age group, mortality rates have declined by 65% globally, and by 71% in Africa.

Other regions have achieved impressive reductions in their malaria burden. Since 2000, the malaria mortality rate declined by 72% in the Region of the Americas, by 65% in the Western Pacific Region, by 64% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and by 49% in the South-East Asia Region. In 2015, for the first time, the European Region reported zero indigenous cases of malaria.

Trends in the scale-up of malaria interventions

During the past 15 years, coverage of mosquito control interventions increased substantially in Africa. In 2014, more than half of the population at risk in Africa (56%) had access to an insecticide-treated mosquito net, compared to 2% in 2000.

In 2014, 116 million people were protected from malaria by indoor residual spraying around the world. In Africa, 50 million people, or 6% of the population at risk, lived in households that were regularly sprayed.

Access to rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and quality-assured artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) has been increasing around the world.

  • The volume of RDT sales reported by manufacturers increased from 46 million in 2008 to 314 million in 2014.
  • Globally, 337 million courses of ACTs were procured by endemic countries in 2014, up from 11 million in 2005.

Coverage gaps

In 2014, 15 million of the 28 million pregnant women at risk of malaria did not receive a single dose of the recommended preventive drugs.

An estimated 269 million people in Africa still lived in households that lack protection from indoor residual spraying or an insecticide-treated bed net.

Drug and insecticide resistance

Emerging parasite resistance to antimalarial medicines and mosquito resistance to insecticides, if left unaddressed, could render some of the current tools ineffective and trigger a rise in global malaria mortality.

In recent years, parasite resistance to artemisinin has been detected in 5 countries of the Greater Mekong subregion: Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. In areas along the Cambodia–Thailand border, P. falciparum has become resistant to most available antimalarial medicines, and multi-drug resistance is a major concern.

Since 2010, 60 countries globally have reported mosquito resistance to at least one insecticide used in nets and indoor spraying. The most commonly reported resistance is to pyrethroids, the most frequently used insecticide in malaria vector control.

Progress towards global targets

The malaria-specific Millennium Development Goal (MDG 6 target C: to have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria) has been achieved.

Fifty-seven countries with malaria transmission in 2000 met the World Health Assembly and Roll Back Malaria Partnership target of reducing malaria incidence by 75% by 2015.

Progress towards elimination

Countries that have achieved at least 3 consecutive years of zero indigenous cases of malaria are eligible to apply for the WHO certification of malaria elimination. Between 1955 and 2015, 27 countries and 2 territories received this certification.

The most recent additions are the United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011) and Maldives (2015). The certification process is currently under way in Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka.

Funding remains inadequate

International and domestic funding for malaria control and elimination totalled US$ 2.5 billion in 2015. Although this represents a significant increase since 2005, it is still well below the US$ 8.7 billion that will be required to achieve global malaria targets 2030.