World Malaria Day 2020: CDC and partners continue the fight against a global killer

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April 25 marks World Malaria Day, bringing awareness about one of the most deadly diseases in the world. This year’s theme, “Zero Malaria Starts with Me”, reminds each of us of the role we can play, individually and collectively, to help achieve a world free of malaria.

CDC has a long history fighting malaria, from our beginning as Malaria Control in War Areas, designed to help keep the southeast U.S. malaria-free during World War II, to the establishment of CDC on July 1, 1946. As a result, by the late 1940s, malaria was eliminated in the United States. Since then we have worked to help others control and eliminate malaria.

We have made tremendous progress in the fight against malaria. Contributions by CDC; The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative external icon(PMI); Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malariaexternal icon; and the Roll Back Malariaexternal icon partnership have been paramount to the gains we have achieved. Together with the global malaria community, PMI has helped save more than seven million lives and prevented more than a billion cases of malaria since 2000.

Still, 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 an estimated 405,000 people and caused 228 million people to become ill in 2018.

The human and economic costs of malaria—estimated to be at least U.S. $12 billion per year—are devastating and real. Today, despite the advances and documented successes, malaria remains responsible for many deaths of children under five years old, taking the life of a child in Africa every two minutes.

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Even in the United States, the disease continues to threaten the health of U.S. travelers, military, and citizens living abroad, with an average of 2,000 imported cases diagnosed annually. CDC monitors malaria in the United States, provides prevention guidance for travelers, and improves clinical care of people in the United States who are infected with malaria. This includes ensuring that critical, appropriate treatment (with intravenous artesunate) is available for the estimated 300 persons who are diagnosed with severe malaria in the United States each year.


Malaria and COVID-19

While the global community responds to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic in the months ahead, it is vital that we do not lose ground in the fight against malaria. To prevent a spike in malaria deaths or COVID-19 complications due to malaria, this life-saving work must continue, albeit done safely in the context of the ongoing pandemic.

The core interventions to prevent and control malaria—such as long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs)rapid diagnostics tests (RDTs), optimal treatment (for example, artemisinin combination therapy [ACTs]), and intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp)—can help reduce the overall strain on health systems. The robust systems that PMI and partners help put in place to combat malaria also strengthen countries’ capacity to respond to other health threats and public health emergencies, such as COVID-19.

Recognizing this, World Health Organization, with technical inputs from CDC and PMI, recently developed and released Tailoring malaria interventions in the COVID-19 responseexternal icon to help address ongoing concerns and challenges.

Unwavering Commitment

CDC experts remain committed to using rigorous science and quality disease surveillance approaches to ensure early detection, confirmation, treatment, and prevention of malaria around the world in the safest way possible.

As we mark World Malaria Day, we ask you to join us in our unwavering commitment to end malaria and invite you to help share the message (including our fact sheetsinfographics, and social media cards) that the fight against the global health threat of malaria continues with each and everyone one of us.

With continued vigilance and commitment, together we can achieve a world with zero malaria.

All photos courtesy of David Snyder / CDC Foundation

Additional Resources

Malaria Stories from the Field

Page last reviewed: April 24, 2020