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CDC and Partners Turn the Tide against Malaria

Photo: Small villageCDC and its global partners have made enormous progress in reaching more people than ever with life-saving malaria interventions and in reducing malaria deaths by nearly half in Africa, where malaria burden is highest.

Malaria has long been a major cause of illness and death worldwide. However, that is changing. CDC and the global community have been working together to reach millions with life-saving prevention and treatment interventions, and this massive scale-up of malaria interventions has saved 3.3 million lives since 2000. It has led to sharp decreases in deaths due to malaria: globally, deaths have fallen by 42% and in sub-Saharan Africa, by 49%.

Although the impact has been dramatic, approximately 627,000 people died of malaria in 2012, most of them young children in Africa.

World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day is commemorated each April 25 and provides an opportunity to reflect on the status of global efforts to "roll back malaria." This year's theme, "Invest in the future: Defeat malaria," is a reminder of the need to continue to make progress and defeat malaria.

Photo: Group of children

CDC's Contributions

CDC began in 1946 as an agency to control malaria in the U.S. and continues to provide leadership and expertise in global malaria control activities.

In the last 20 years, CDC has developed and tested the tools that make up the effective intervention package now being used in global efforts worldwide:

  • Insecticide-treated bed nets and house spraying to protect families from mosquitoes
  • Accurate diagnostic tests and high-quality effective drugs
  • Treatment for pregnant women so that they are protected and their babies are born healthy

"The remarkable gains against malaria are still fragile," says Dr. Robert Newman, former Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program. "In the next 10–15 years, the world will need innovative tools and technologies, as well as new strategic approaches to sustain and accelerate progress."

Changing Malaria Landscape Brings New Challenges

Now with changes in the malaria landscape as a result of intervention scale-up and emerging drug and insecticide resistance, CDC is looking at the tools we are currently using to maximize their effectiveness. CDC is also developing new tools: new treatment medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and mosquito control products. CDC has begun to develop effective strategies for using and evaluating them. By testing these tools, CDC ensures we invest wisely in the resources to fight malaria that will have the most success. We are also boosting our efforts to monitor and evaluate approaches to resistance to drugs and insecticides, as well as investigating new ways to collect the strategic information needed to track progress in the fight against malaria.

CDC also implements the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), jointly with the U.S. Agency for International Development, in 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Greater Mekong Subregion in Asia.

Malaria in the United States

In the United States, malaria was eliminated in the United States by the early 1950s, but on average about 1,500 travelers returning to the U.S. each year bring back "imported malaria." However, the number of reported cases in the U.S. for 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, was the highest in 40 years. If travelers will be visiting an area with malaria transmission, they should be sure to take precautions to prevent the disease.