The Big Push to Defeat Malaria

According to the World Health Organization, in 2010, malaria caused an estimated 219 million illnesses and 660,000 deaths, mostly children under 5 years old in Africa. These numbers represent a 25% decrease in malaria deaths globally and a 33% reduction in malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000.

Malaria can also cause severe illness, dangerously small newborns, and permanent disability. It is a disease of poverty. Direct costs from malaria are at least US $12 billion per year, with substantially greater losses in economic growth and human potential. However, inexpensive, simple interventions can dramatically reduce malaria's impact.

World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day is commemorated each April 25 and provides an opportunity to reflect on the status of global efforts to "roll back malaria." This year's theme, "Invest in the future: Defeat malaria," is a reminder of the need to continue to make progress and defeat malaria.

CDC's Contributions

CDC began in 1946 as an agency to control malaria in the U.S. and continues to provide leadership and expertise in global malaria control activities. The President's Malaria Initiative, jointly implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development and CDC in 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Greater Mekong subregion in Asia, has greatly contributed to the decreased malaria burden in its target countries. Twelve of the original 15 target countries have shown sharp decreases in malaria deaths in surveys taken before PMI efforts began and then between 2008 and 2012. Reductions ranged from 16% in Malawi to 50% in Rwanda.

In the last 20 years, CDC has helped develop and test the tools that make up the effective intervention package now being used in global efforts worldwide:

  • insecticide-treated bed nets and house-spraying to protect families from mosquitoes
  • accurate diagnostic tests and high-quality effective drugs
  • treatment for pregnant women so that they are protected and their babies are born healthy

New treatment medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and mosquito control products may soon be available. CDC has begun to develop effective strategies for using and evaluating them. By testing these tools, CDC ensures we invest wisely in the resources to fight malaria with the most success. We are also boosting our efforts to monitor and evaluate approaches to resistance to drugs and insecticides, as well as investigating new ways to collect the strategic information needed to track progress in the fight against malaria.

Working Together

"The global campaign against malaria has shown what is possible when the international community joins forces on multiple fronts to tackle a disease that takes its heaviest toll on poor and underprivileged populations… The advances of recent years show that the battle against malaria can be won," says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Malaria in the United States

In the United States, malaria was eliminated in the United States by the early 1950s, but about 1,500 travelers returning to the U.S. each year bring back "imported malaria." If travelers will be visiting an area with malaria transmission, they should be sure to take precautions to prevent the disease.

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SOURCE: CDC, April 25, 2013

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