Malaria facts

  • the global 'at risk' population is around 3.4 billion people, roughly half of the world’s population
  • it is an endemic disease, with 106 endemic countries
  • the number of infected people is around 500 - 600 million at any one time
  • the global annual mortality from malaria is between 1.5 - 3 million deaths, or between 4000 and 8000 each day
  • every 30 seconds, a child dies of malaria
  • people living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable
  • malaria is a serious problem in Africa, where one in every five childhood deaths is due to the effects of the disease
  • an African child has on average between 1.6 and 5.4 episodes of malarial fever each year
  • malaria is the 4th leading cause of death for children globally
  • malaria has been estimated to cost Africa more than $12 billion US dollars every year in lost economic productivity, and can cost households as much as 32 per cent of their entire monthly income
  • if universal malaria prevention could be achieved and maintained until 2015, an estimated 2.95 million African children’s lives could be saved

Malaria is found within the tropics, reflecting the presence of a parasite-carrying mosquito.

This tends to be at altitudes of up to 3000 metres, with high humidity, where temperatures are above 15°C and below 40°C. The map below shows affected countries.

Malaria risk areas.

Stagnant pools of water allow the mosquito to live. It uses areas like marshes, lakes and river pools to breed.

While marshlands have been drained, development has meant the construction of new dams, reservoirs and irrigation ditches, creating stagnant water pools.

In Vietnam old bomb craters provided rich breeding grounds for the mosquito. With greater mobility people on the move can transmit the disease to a new area or even reintroduce it into a previously cleared area.

Increasing population growth can encourage people to live closer to affected areas that were previously avoided, such as close to river pools. Normally the mosquito cannot travel move than 2km from a water source.

Poverty is a crucial factor as avoiding malaria costs money.