Health

Malaria

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© UNICEF/NIGB2010-0214/Giacomo Pirozzi
A woman in Niger breastfeeding her baby while lying under a long-lasting impregnated mosquito net in the village of Garin Badjini, in the south east of the country.

Between 2000 and 2015, malaria mortality rate has fallen by 60% and the number of malaria cases has fallen by 37% globally. As result, 6.2 million lives saved over the last 15 years of which 5.7 million are children under five.

 Over the last 15 years, the delivery of core malaria interventions has undergone an unprecedented expansion. Since 2000, one billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been distributed in Africa. The introduction of rapid diagnostic tests has made it possible to distinguish more quickly between malarial and nonmalarial fevers – enabling more timely and appropriate treatment. Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) have been highly effective against Plasmodium falciparum, the most prevalent and lethal malaria parasite affecting humans. And as we have reached more communities and people at risk for malaria with these core interventions, many more lives have been saved.

Progress in reaching children under the age of 5 – one of the most vulnerable groups affected by malaria – has been especially encouraging. By 2015, an estimated

68 per cent of under-fives in sub-Saharan Africa were sleeping under insecticide-treated nets, compared to less than 2 per cent in 2000. Over a 15-year period, the under-five global malaria death rate fell by 65 per cent.

Despite tremendous progress, malaria remains an acute public health problem in many regions. In 2015 alone, there were 214 million new cases of malaria reported, and approximately 438,000 people died of this preventable and treatable disease, 70 per cent of whom are children under five, still die from this preventable disease every year. 90% of malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. About 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. The disease also contributes greatly to anaemia among children — a major cause of poor growth and development.

 

Malaria infection during pregnancy is associated with severe anaemia and other illness in the mother and contributes to low birth weight among newborn infants — one of the leading risk factors for infant mortality and sub-optimal growth and development. Malaria has serious economic impacts in Africa, slowing economic growth and development and perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty. Malaria is truly a disease of poverty — afflicting primarily the poor who tend to live in malaria-prone rural areas in poorly-constructed dwellings that offer few, if any, barriers against mosquitoes.

The insecticide treated nets provide a physical barrier against mosquitoes; also, because they are impregnated with insecticide, they can reduce the lifespan of a mosquito, decreasing the chance of it transmitting malaria to another person. Thus, ITNs provide personal protection to those sleeping under them, and once a sufficient number of people are using ITNs, they can also provide a communitywide protective effect by reducing the number of mosquitoes in a community. It is therefore desirable to achieve high rates of ITN use in a population.

 

ACTs are the recommended treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. P. vivax malaria should be treated with ACTs or chloroquine, supplemented with a 14-day course of primaquine to prevent relapses, taking into account the risk

of adverse effects among patients receiving primaquine if they have a deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase.

Since not all fevers are due to malaria, parasitological confirmation by light microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) is recommended in all patients before antimalarial treatment is started.

 

Relevant Documents

 

1)      Global Malaria Action Plan II (Action and Investment for Malaria) 2015  http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/microsites/gmap/0-5.pdf

2)      Global Malaria Technical Strategy 2015  http://www.who.int/malaria/areas/global_technical_strategy/en/

3)      Malaria MDG Report (2015)

4)      World Malaria Report (2015)

5)      World Malaria Day 2015 documents - Joint Press Release & Infographic

6)      Advocacy and Resource Mobilization for Malaria (2015)

Malaria on childinfo.org

LLIN Supply Update [PDF]
WHO recommends that oral artemisinin-based monotherapies be progressively withdrawn from the market and replaced with ACTs – a policy that was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2007. The number of countries that still allow the marketing of these products decreased from 55 in 2008 to 9 as of November 2013; 6 of those 9 countries are in the African Region. The number of pharmaceutical companies marketing these products dropped from 38 in 2010 to 30 in 2013.UNICEF plays a key role in global, regional and country malaria partnerships. In 2012, UNICEF spent US$1.57 billion on child survival programming , including funding for malaria control. 


 

 

World Malaria Day 2013

Malaria Advocacy Booklet

"Malaria, A Major Cause of Child Death and Poverty in Africa"  published by UNICEF in January 2004, includes case studies and a graphic representation of endemic malaria, outlining key actions UNICEF and its partners must take to control the malaria burden in Africa.

 

What's new?

World Malaria Report 2012

Roll Back Malaria Partnership - Progress & Impact Report

Malaria technical notes

Seven UNICEF Malaria technical notes, to support programme implementation at country level, are available under Technical and policy documents:

  • Malaria implementation approach
  • Child health package
  • Reproductive health package
  • Malaria therapy policy
  • Insecticide treated nets
  • Malaria and HIV/AIDS
  • Monitoring and evaluation 

Articles and related evidence

A list of peer-reviewed articles, papers and related evidence is available under Resources
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