World Malaria Day
April 25, 2017
World Malaria Day provides an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the progress we’ve achieved combatting malaria as well as a moment to reflect on the work yet to be done to defeat this disease.
There is much to celebrate. The hard work by CDC and its global partners has rendered demonstrable achievements that are edging us ever closer to “Ending Malaria for GoodExternal”—the World Health Organization’s theme for World Malaria Day this year. In the last 15 years, for example, the overall rate of death from malaria has declined by 62% globally. For children five years old and younger in Africa, the results are even more impressive, with a death rate cut by 69 percent over the same period. Guided by science-driven innovations and through the hard work of partners and programs like the Global FundExternal, President’s Malaria InitiativeExternal, and Roll Back MalariaExternal partners, the world has saved 6.8 million lives.
This is no time, however, to relax efforts. Malaria caused 212 million illnesses and 429,000 deaths in 2015—the equivalent of one child dying from malaria every two minutes. Malaria remains persistent and all too deadly, despite the gains. Approximately 3.2 billion people (half the world’s population) in 96 countries/territories remain at high risk of contracting malaria. Moreover, the disease continues to be a threat to U.S. travelers, military, and U.S. citizens living abroad, with more than 1,500 imported cases diagnosed each year in the U.S.
In addition to the human suffering that malaria causes, it also carries a financial burden, estimated to be at least US$12 billion per year. Malaria treatment is expensive: according to a recent study of hospital discharge data, the average cost of a hospital stay in the U.S. as a result of malaria infection totals more than $25,000 per patient, likely much higher for patients with resultant permanent disabilities.
The nature of the battle itself is changing as well. In many countries, controlling malaria is threatened by rapid development and urbanization, and the distressing increase of resistance to frontline antimalarial drugs like artemisinin—the core compound of the best available antimalarial medicines.
Since 2010, 60 of the 73 countries that monitor insecticide resistance have reported that mosquitos are immune to at least one insecticide class used to treat bed nets and used for indoor spraying. Even worse, of those 60 countries, 50 have reported that mosquitoes are resistant to two or more insecticide classes.
We at CDC are working to confront these challenges and accelerate progress towards ending malaria. Along with our U.S. and global partners, CDC experts focus on:
- Monitoring rates of malaria in the U.S., providing prevention guidance for travelers, and improving clinical care of people in the U.S. infected with malaria.
- Expanding coverage and optimizing effectiveness of proven malaria control strategies worldwide, including long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), rapid diagnostics tests (RDTs), Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs or antimalarial drugs), and intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), through our co-implementation of the President’s Malaria Initiative, which is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
- Transforming real-time surveillance for diagnostically confirmed malaria cases into a core malaria intervention for countries and global partners as recommended in the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, 2016–2030.
- Leading a consortium of malaria partners, supported by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to accelerate elimination of malaria in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as the last remaining malaria-endemic countries in the Caribbean. These efforts will offer valuable lessons that can be used to eliminate malaria in other countries.
- Advancing implementation science to develop and improve the most effective approaches and strategies for malaria surveillance, vector control, and diagnostics; reducing the extent and effect of drug and insecticide resistance; and evaluating promising interventions, such as vaccines and mass drug administration.
To learn more about this life life-saving work, please find additional resources (e.g., fact sheets, infographics, and social media cards) that highlight the ways CDC is working to diagnose, treat, and prevent malaria worldwide.
Rebecca Martin, PhD
Director, Center for Global Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Monica Parise, MD, MPH
Director, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
Center for Global Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention