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Facts on Children


Malaria kills over one million people every year.

Every year, approximately 300 to 500 million people are infected. African children below the age of five account for 75 per cent of those who die. Malaria accounts for one in five of all childhood deaths in Africa. 

While the disease has been eliminated from temperate climates, at the end of 2004 107 countries and territories had areas at risk of malaria transmission, putting 3.2 billion people at risk.

Malaria is Africa's leading cause of under-five mortality (20 per cent) and constitutes 10 per cent of the continent's overall disease burden. It accounts for 40% of public health expenditure.

At a national level, the disease may be responsible for an estimated average annual reduction of 1.3 per cent in economic growth in countries that have the highest disease burden.

Artemisinin-containing combination therapies (ACTs), the most effective available treatments against falciparum malaria, are 10 to 20 times most costly than chloroquine, the former mainstay of therapy.  The use of insecticide-treated nets has been shown to reduce under-five mortality from all causes by up to 25 per cent.

However, at the end of 2004, fewer than five per cent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa were sleeping under an insecticide-treated net. We are now witnessing a rapid scale-up and many countries are achieving higher coverage rates.

Malaria, together with HIV/AIDS and TB, is one of the major public health challenges undermining development in the poorest countries in the world. The estimated cost for supporting the minimal set of malaria interventions needed to control malaria is around US$ 3.2 billion per year for the 82 countries with the highest burden of malaria (US$ 1.9 billion for Africa and US$ 1.2 billion elsewhere).

Updated; April 2007