25 April is celebrated as World Malaria Day each year. This year the theme is “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives.” It highlights the fact that no single tool that is available today will solve the problem of malaria.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
According to the World Malaria Report 2021, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627 000 malaria deaths worldwide.
This represents about 14 million more cases compared to the previous year, and 69 000 more deaths.
Approximately two-thirds of the additional deaths (47 000) were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO African Region accounted for 95% of malaria cases (228 million) and 96% of deaths (602 000) worldwide in 2020. That same year, four countries carried just over half of all malaria deaths globally: Nigeria (31.9%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (13.2%), the United Republic of Tanzania (4.1%) and Mozambique (3.8%). More than two thirds of deaths were among children under the age of 5 living in the WHO African Region.
In the WHO African Region, between 2019 and 2020:
- total malaria cases increased from 213 million to 228 million
- total malaria deaths increased from 534 000 to 602 000
In 2020, the South-East Asia Region had nine malaria-endemic countries that contributed to about 2% of the burden of malaria globally. Most cases in the region were concentrated in India (83%).
Over the past 20 years, the region has made excellent progress in reducing its malaria burden.
- total malaria cases were reduced by 78%, from 22.9 million to 5 million
- total malaria deaths were reduced by 75%, from 35 000 to 9000
In 2020, total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated US$ 3.3 billion against a target of US$ 6.8 billion. Governments of malaria-endemic countries contributed about one third of all malaria funding, and the remaining two-thirds of funding came from international sources.
- More than half (47) of all malaria-endemic countries had fewer than 10 000 indigenous malaria cases, up from 26 countries in 2000.
- 26 countries reported fewer than 100 malaria cases, up from 6 countries in 2000.
Malaria is preventable and curable
Time is of the essence when diagnosing and treating malaria.
Step up innovation as no single tool will solve the problem of malaria.
Expand access to current tools- particularly in countries hardest hit by malaria.
Expand the use of the first malaria vaccine.
Strengthen country ownership of malaria responses, together with community participation and engagement.
Ensure resilient and equitable health systems as progress against malaria depends on strong health systems that are adequately funded and capable to deliver quality health care.
Tailor responses to the local setting. Responses should be informed by local data and disease patterns.
Improve surveillance systems as strong surveillance is the cornerstone of malaria programme planning.
Link to the World Malaria Day site:
Link to the WHO factsheet on malaria: