Malaria is a parasitic disease spread by infected Anopheles mosquitoes, which bite mainly between dusk and dawn. Globally there are more than 60 species of anophelines which are recognized vectors. Malaria is caused by 4 parasite species in humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae and P. ovale.
According to the latest WHO estimates, malaria kills more than 600 000 people every year, most of them children under 5 years of age. Around the world, malaria transmission occurs in 97 countries, putting about 3.4 billion people at risk of illness.
The disease burden is heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 90% of annual global malaria deaths occur.
Poor and vulnerable communities living in rural areas with limited access to health facilities suffer the most. Four out of 10 people who die of malaria live in the 2 highest burden countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.
Malaria triggers fever, chills and a flu-like illness at first. If left untreated, the disease can lead to severe complications and death. Malaria symptoms usually appear after a period of seven days or longer after the bite of the mosquito.
The best way to prevent malaria infection is through the regular use of long-lasting insecticidal nets, indoor spraying of homes with residual insecticides, and the use of WHO-recommended preventive therapies.