WHO updates fact sheet on Malaria (14 October 2015)

The World Health Organization updated its fact sheet on malaria recently.

Key Messages:

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites, and transmitted by the bite of infected female mosquitoes.

Almost half the world’s population- about 3.2 billion people- are at risk of malaria.

Malaria is preventable and curable.

Globally, malaria incidence fell by 37% between 2000 and 2015. In that same period, malaria death rates fell by 60% globally among all age groups, and by 65% among children under 5 (this translates into an estimated 5.9 million child lives saved).

More than two thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in the under five years age group.

Sub-Saharan Africa carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 89% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths.

In most cases, malaria is transmitted by the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes. There are many species of anopheles mosquitoes, and they bite between dusk and dawn.

Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission. This includes:

  • Using Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs); and
  • Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) with insecticides.

Insecticide resistance is a cause for concern in many areas of sub-Saharan Africa and India.

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for reducing disease and preventing deaths.

Artemisinin- based combination therapy (ACT) is the best available treatment, particularly for falciparum malaria.

WHO recommends that all cases of suspected malaria be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing (either microscopy or rapid diagnostic test) before administering treatment.

Resistance to anti-malarial drugs is a recurring problem.

Malaria elimination: It is defined as interrupting local mosquito-borne malaria transmission in a defined geographical area, typically countries; i.e. zero incidence of locally contracted cases.  

In recent years, four countries have been certified by WHO to have eliminated malaria:

  • United Arab Emirates (2007),
  • Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), and
  • Armenia (2011)

Currently there are no licensed vaccines against malaria. WHO is expected to issue recommendations regarding the use (or not) of one research vaccine against P. falciparum, known as RTS, S/AS01, in October 2015.

Useful Links:

Link to the updated fact sheet:


Link to the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 (English, Arabic, French, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese):


Link to WHO Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria, 3rd Edition (April, 2015):


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