Malaria's Impact Worldwide

Key points

  • Globally, an estimated 249 million malaria cases occurred in 2022, leading to 608,000 malaria deaths in a single year.
  • Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems, with nearly half of the world's population at risk for infection.
  • In many of the countries affected by malaria, it is the leading cause of death.
Community health worker administering preventative antimalarial medication to young children.


In 2022, an estimated 608,000 people died of malaria—most were young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Within the last decade, increasing numbers of partners and resources have rapidly increased malaria control efforts. Theexpansion of interventions and development of new malaria prevention technologies have saved millions of lives globally and cut malaria mortality by 36% from 2010 to 2020, leading to hopes and plans for elimination and ultimately eradication. However, the last few years have seen a plateau in progress, highlighting the need for constant vigilance and research. CDC brings its technical expertise to support these efforts with its collaborative work in many malaria-endemic countries and regions.

Malaria's Impact

Malaria occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical areas of the world where people lack access to certain resources, such as housing with screens or medical facilities with proper testing and treatment capabilities. In many of the countries affected by malaria, it is a leading cause of illness and death. In areas with high transmission, the most vulnerable groups are young children, who have not developed immunity to malaria yet, and pregnant women, whose immunity has been altered by pregnancy. The costs of malaria—to individuals, families, communities, nations—are enormous.


Africa is the most affected region due to a combination of factors:

  • Presence of efficient mosquitoes responsible for high transmission (e.g., Anopheles gambiae complex).
  • The predominant parasite species is Plasmodium falciparum, which is the species that is most likely to cause severe malaria and death.
  • Local weather conditions often allow transmission to occur year-round.
  • Scarce resources and socio-economic instability have hindered efficient malaria control activities.
  • In other areas of the world, malaria is a less prominent cause of deaths, but can cause substantial disease and incapacitation, especially in some countries in South America and South Asia.


Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide. It is a leading cause of death and disease in many developing countries, where young children and pregnant women are the groups most affected. According to the 2023 World Malaria Report:

  • Nearly half the world's population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 85 countries and territories.
  • In 2022, malaria caused an estimated 249 million clinical episodes, and 608,000 deaths. An estimated 95% of deaths in 2022 were in the WHO African Region.

Who is Most Vulnerable?

The most vulnerable are persons with no or little immunity against the disease. In areas with high transmission (such as Africa south of the Sahara), the most vulnerable groups are

  • Young children, who have not yet developed partial immunity to malaria.
  • Pregnant women, whose immunity is altered by pregnancy, especially during the first and second pregnancies.
  • Travelers, migrants, or displaced populations coming from areas with little or no malaria transmission, who lack immunity.

In areas with lower transmission (such as Latin America and Asia), residents are less frequently infected. Many persons may reach adult age without having built protective immunity and are thus susceptible to the disease, including severe and fatal illness.

Social and Economic Toll

Malaria imposes substantial costs to both individuals and governments.

Costs to individuals and their families include purchase of drugs for treating malaria at home; expenses for travel to, and treatment at, dispensaries and clinics; lost days of work; absence from school; expenses for preventive measures; and expenses for burial in case of deaths.

Costs to governments include maintenance, supply and staffing of health facilities; purchase and distribution of drugs and supplies; public health interventions against malaria, such as insecticide spraying or distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets; lost days of work with resulting loss of income; and lost opportunities for joint economic ventures and tourism.