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World Malaria Day 2018

CDC Bottle Bioassay for malaria testing

Join CDC and partners to raise awareness for World Malaria Day.

On World Malaria Day 2018, we are at a pivotal moment in the global fight against this deadly infectious disease. This year’s theme, “Ready to beat malaria,” presents both a moment of self-reflection and a charge to unite around the common goal of a world free of malaria.

Evidence shows that the hard work by CDC and a range of committed global partners in recent years has paid off. Almost 7 million lives have been saved since 2001 thanks to the vigorous expansion of proven malaria interventions and the collective efforts of public health and political leaders in countries where malaria remains a serious threat. Support from the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI); Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria; and Roll Back Malaria have made major contributions to the gains we’ve achieved.

“In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria…We are now at a turning point. Without urgent action, we risk going backwards, and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond.” – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization

Hand holding malaria test kit

Providing insecticide-treated bed nets like this one is a proven malaria control strategy in malaria-endemic areas.

“CDC’s engagement with eliminating malaria spans more than 75 years. The agency was founded on the idea of protecting people from this deadly disease. We have made great strides in recent years and remain steadfast in our commitment to reduce the needless death and illness from malaria, and to end the threat for good.” – Dr. Monica Parise, Director, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria

iMSaT ((intermittent mass screen and treat) work in Kenya

Malaria rapid diagnostic testing is conducted as part of a community-based cross-sectional survey to assess the burden of malaria in western Kenya. Photo credit: Meghna Desai, CDC

Yet, as we assess the status of malaria control on this World Malaria Day, the data in the most recent World Malaria Report shows that progress has stalled. Without urgent action, the major gains achieved in the fight against malaria are under threat.

An estimated 3.2 billion people (almost half the world’s population) across 91 countries or territories are still at risk of malaria. Malaria killed 445,000 people in 2016, similar to the death toll the year before. Malaria also caused 216 million people to become ill in 2016, an increase of 5 million cases over 2015. Fifteen countries account for 80% of global malaria deaths. Except for India, all of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. Even today, despite the advances and documented successes, malaria remains a major killer of children under five years old, taking the life of a child every two minutes.

The human and economic costs of malaria—estimated to be at least US$ 12 billion per year—are devastating and real. In addition, the disease continues to be a threat to U.S. travelers, military, and U.S. citizens living abroad, with more than 1,700 imported cases diagnosed each year in the United States.

There is still more to be done to achieve global targets in WHO’s Global Technical Malaria Strategy 2016–2030. World Malaria Day 2018 must serve as a rallying cry to advance the status quo, to recognize the way malaria has evolved, and challenge us to recommit to finding ways to take the fight to the next level.

What CDC is Doing to Beat Malaria

As one of the global leaders in the fight to end malaria, CDC’s world-class scientists are fully committed to applying rigorous science and disease surveillance techniques to end this epidemic. In collaboration with U.S. and global partners, CDC experts are working to end malaria by:

Confronting Malaria in the United States

While local transmission of malaria was eliminated from the United States in the early 1950s, CDC remains vigilant to monitor and help clinicians diagnose and treat cases of imported malaria. Rapidly responding to these cases is critical to saving lives and preventing reintroduction of malaria transmission in the United States. CDC also provides guidance for the prevention of malaria in international travelers to areas where malaria still poses a risk. Still, the best way to reduce the risk is to reduce or stop malaria transmission where it occurs.

Reducing the Global Burden and Risk of Malaria

In support of the collective goal to end malaria, CDC is committed to identifying and expanding the use of proven malaria control strategies worldwide, including long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs), rapid diagnostics tests (RDTs), indoor residual spraying (IRS), artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), and intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp). By the end of 2017, PMI, which is led by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and co-implemented together with CDC, had procured more than 198 million LLINs, 350 million RDTs, 479 million ACT treatments, and 46 million IPTp treatments in 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as countries in the Greater Mekong Region. Contributions by PMI and other donors have greatly increased access to quality malaria diagnosis and appropriate antimalarial drugs in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2017, WHO reported that the proportion of suspected malaria cases receiving a parasitological test among patients presenting for care in the public sector has increased in most WHO regions since 2010. The largest increase has been in the WHO African Region, where diagnostic testing increased to 87% in 2016, mainly owing to an increase in the use of RDTs. A confirmed test result is an important step toward being able to transform malaria surveillance into a tool that will help local and national officials target their control and elimination efforts more effectively.

CDC also continues to invest in cutting-edge science in the fields of malaria surveillance, entomology and vector control, malaria diagnostics, and in studies to identify and address emerging resistance to insecticides and antimalarial drugs. CDC scientists have contributed to research on a diverse range of issues, including adapting a laboratory tool for detecting low levels of malaria infection in resource-limited settings, clinical trials on the effectiveness and safety of drugs to prevent onward transmission of malaria from infected humans to mosquitoes, and an evaluation of bed nets treated with a combination of insecticides to curb insecticide resistance. CDC staff have also been integral to evaluating promising malaria vaccines, including the RTS,S/AS01 and a newer sporozite vaccine (PfSPZ).

Helping to Eliminate Malaria Close to Home

CDC is also leading a consortium of malaria partners aiming to eliminate malaria transmission from Haiti and the Dominican Republic by 2020. Supported by an initial $29.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Malaria Zero partners are working collectively with governments and organizations in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to implement an evidence-based approach to create a malaria-free zone across the Caribbean. These efforts will help identify promising practices for elimination of malaria from other regions and proves that we’re poised and ready to beat malaria.