Malaria Statistics - Featured Image

48 Malaria Statistics & Facts to Keep in Mind When Traveling

by Aleksandar Hrubenja

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that has plagued humanity for centuries. Caused by Plasmodium parasites and spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes, this disease is still a major public health problem all around the globe.

The following data and malaria statistics serve the purpose of educating people about this disease. While some of the information below is positive and hopeful, it still shouldn’t influence the fact that this is a very serious disease and global issue.

Even though it’s treatable and curable, every two minutes a child dies of this disease. Despite decades of global effort and funding all directly invested in combating malaria, it’s still one of the more serious issues that plague third-world countries. 

Key Malaria Statistics and Facts to be Aware of in 2019

  • In 2017, there were 435,000 malaria-related deaths worldwide.
  • On a global scale, there were around 219 million cases of malaria in 2017.
  • Malaria control and elimination cost $3.1 billion annually.
  • There are around 1,700 cases of malaria in the US every year, mostly coming from travelers and immigrants.
  • Young children are the most vulnerable to malaria due to their immune systems not yet being accustomed to the disease.
  • According to malaria statistics, in 2015, roughly 19% of all deaths in Ghana were attributed to malaria.
  • The direct costs of malaria in terms of illness, premature deaths, and treatment amount to around $12 billion annually.
  • The average number of malaria deaths halved between 2000 and 2012, all while saving 3.3 million lives.
  • The current goal is to reduce global malaria incidence and mortality rates by 90% by the year 2030.
  • Malaria is not contagious the same way a virus is, it is preventable, and it’s curable.

Global Malaria Statistics 

Malaria Statistics - Global

1. Africa has the highest share of the global malaria burden, with the region representing 92% of the world’s malaria cases, and 93% of the malaria deaths.

(WHO)

Sadly, just like HIV, the African region has the highest malaria levels as well. We can see that the far majority of all malaria cases can be found there, with an even greater number of deaths caused by malaria, according to the relevant facts about malaria in Africa. 

2. There are around 1,700 cases of malaria in the United States annually.

(CDC)

Conversely, malaria in the US is pretty much nonexistent. The cases that have been found there are transferred by travelers who have visited Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, as well as immigrants hailing from these regions.

3. In 2017, there were 435,000 deaths from malaria worldwide.

(WHO)

The data gathered by the World Health Organization is clear as far as how many people have died from malaria. Malaria took hundreds of thousands of lives in 2017 all across the globe. As we’ve seen already, most of these deaths can be found in Africa.

4. There were around 219 million estimated cases of malaria in 2017, spread out over 87 countries.

(WHO)

This is actually a slight increase from the previous year according to the relevant malaria statistics from 2017. In 2016, there were estimations that pointed to around 217 million cases of malaria in 2017. These cases have been spread out across 87 different countries across the globe.

5. Malaria is caused by 5 parasitic species, of which P. falciparum and P. vivax are responsible for most contagions.

(Severe Malaria Observatory)

Malaria is caused by five different parasitic species. However, as far as how many people die from malaria each year, P. falciparum takes the most lives. This type of malaria parasite is most prevalent in Africa. The second most prevalent type, P. vivax, is the most prevalent type outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.

6. In regard to malaria suppression, international funding is a core source of funding for low-income (87%) and lower middle income (70%) countries.

(WHO)

Further statistics show that these countries also suffer the most from malaria and greatly depend on international funding in order to improve the situation.

7. In 2017, malaria was the source of every twelfth child’s death.

(Our World in Data)

One of the darker malaria statistics points out that in 2017, one in every twelve children who lost their life died because of this disease. Worse, more than half of all malaria-related deaths occur in children under five years old. Children are much more susceptible to it due to not having developed proper immunity. 

8. By the 1970s, malaria had been eradicated from Europe.

(Clinical Microbiology and Infection)

As far as Africa is concerned, the specific malaria death statistics are rather gruesome. However, due to better infrastructure and a climate less suitable for its development, malaria was completely eradicated from Europe nearly fifty years ago.

9. Poor people with substandard access to healthcare are greatly at risk.

(CDC)

The data on what malaria does to the body is pretty clear—symptoms involve diarrhea, anemia, vomiting, fevers, chills, and sweating. However, the disease itself is treatable and curable. The core problem with malaria is that many people simply don’t have access to good health care, putting them at greater risk.

Malaria in Africa: Facts and Statistics

Malaria Statistics - Africa

10. Malaria takes up 1.3% of the entire GDP of Africa to fight it.

(UNICEF Data)

The WHO has malaria data and facts showing that it requires 1.3% of the continent’s entire GDP. So just combating this one single disease takes up a sizable chunk of the entire continent’s budget. Furthermore, this doesn’t include the economic potential that has been lost because of this disease.

11. Just under half of all malaria cases worldwide occur in Nigeria (representing 25% of all cases), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (at 11%), Mozambique (5%), India (4%), and Uganda (4%).

(WHO)

The relevant malaria statistics by country point toward five countries having almost half of all global malaria cases. Together, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, India, and Uganda all make up 49% of the global malaria burden.

12. There were 17,904 known cases of malaria in Haiti in 2014.

(NCBI)

In the case of malaria in Haiti, statistics show that the year 2014 showed a significant spike in malaria cases, reaching 17,904. However, the country has since instituted actual and achievable plans with the goal of eradicating malaria in Haiti by 2020. 

13. Children in Africa miss around half of their school days because of malaria.

(ChildFund International)

To further discuss malaria in Africa, the facts show that this disease is indeed part of everyday life on this continent. It impacts the economy, regular events, even education. Namely, malaria in Africa is so ubiquitous that children living there spend up to half of their school days at home, sick from this disease.

14. From 2000 to 2012, the total malaria deaths in Africa halved, and over 3.3 million lives were saved.

(CDC)

 While we have yet to receive malaria statistics from 2019, we can safely say that things are looking up. According to the CDC malaria data, over 3.3 million lives were saved between 2000 and 2012 after implementing effective intervention systems in Africa. If the total deaths caused by malaria can be halved in this short of a period, there’s a solid chance that the issue will be eradicated during our lifetimes.

15. Between 2010 and 2017, 88% of the reduction in malaria-related deaths took place in Africa.

(WHO)

These stats on malaria point toward a positive trend for the African region. Even though this area accounted for the highest number of deaths in 2017, it also noted the highest decrease in deaths between 2010 and 2017. Namely, of the 172,000 fewer recorded malaria deaths worldwide in 2017 compared to 2010, 88% of the reduction occurred in Africa.

16. In 2015, 19% of all deaths in Ghana were attributed to malaria.

(Severe Malaria Observatory)

Looking at malaria in Ghana, the statistics and facts are sobering. While Ghana represents 4% of the global cases of malaria, and 7% of the cases in West Africa, the death toll is staggering. Over 19% of all deaths in Ghana in 2015 were caused by this disease.

17. There are 110 million cases of malaria per year in Nigeria, accounting for 25% of Africa’s malaria burden.

(Severe Malaria Observatory)

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa by a large margin. Still, over 110 million cases of malaria can be found here. When it comes to malaria in Nigeria, statistics show that the country takes on a quarter of Africa’s malaria burden. Furthermore, it impacts 11% of all cases of maternal mortality and 30% of all hospitalizations for children younger than five years.

18. Malaria is on the decline in Kenya, with a decrease in prevalence from 11% to 8% between 2010 and 2015—as well as a decrease in malaria-caused child mortality rates by 55%.

(President’s Malaria Initiative)

In the case of malaria in Kenya, the statistics are relatively positive. Measures like education, better infrastructure, and malaria mosquito elimination have all yielded fruit. Between 2010 and 2015 it has a decreased prevalence of 3%, and the mortality caused by malaria in children under five years old has been halved.

19. Over 68% of Ethiopia’s population is at risk of malaria.

(CDC)

The malaria parasite is very prevalent in Ethiopia. The relevant statistics on malaria show that over 68% of the population of this country is at risk. The primary reasons, besides a climate beneficial to the parasite and the mosquitoes that carry it, is poor infrastructure and education.

20. Over a third of households in Africa don’t have proper protection from malaria-carrying mosquitos.

(UNICEF Data)

One of the best ways to combat the anopheles mosquito is by using proper insecticide-treated nets. Unfortunately, this very useful measure can only be found in two-thirds of households, while the rest simply don’t have access. 

General Malaria Facts and Statistics

Malaria Statistics - Facts

21. In addition to mosquitoes, malaria can spread via organ donation, blood transfusions, or the use of contaminated syringes and needles.

(CDC)

Most people don’t even know how you get malaria. They either think that you can only develop it from mosquitos, or they believe it’s like the common cold and spreads through contact. Both are false.

So how do you get malaria? All you need is for the parasite to enter your bloodstream, either through mosquitoes or via organ donation, blood transfusions, or syringes and needles that have already been exposed to malaria.

22. In 2017, children younger than the age of 5 accounted for 61% (266,000) of all global malaria deaths.

(WHO)

The malaria facts sheet compiled by the World Health Organization indicates that out of all the malaria deaths that occurred in 2017, children under the age of five accounted for 61% of those mortalities.

23. Both the malaria-carrying mosquito and the malaria parasite need areas with year-long high temperatures and high humidity in order to thrive and develop.

(CDC)

No matter which organism causes malaria (i.e., which type of Plasmodium parasite), you can be pretty sure that it needs a specific climate to thrive. One of the core reasons why malaria cannot be found in Europe—but is so prevalent and severe in specific areas like Sub-Saharan Africa—is that the weather prolongs the average mosquito lifespan, as well as the lifespan of the parasite. 

24. Young children are more vulnerable to malaria because they are too young to have yet developed an immunity to it.

(CDC)

One of the more grim facts about malaria is that young children under the age of six are the most vulnerable to the disease. The most likely reason is that they have not yet developed their immune systems completely, and they haven’t built up immunity against the disease.

25. Of the various types of malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent, followed by Plasmodium vivax, to a significant degree.

(Journal of Infection and Public Health)

One of the alarming but interesting facts about malaria is that there are actually multiple parasites that cause malaria. According to the 6,863 malaria blood smear samples that were examined within one study, the P. falciparum accounted for 64.6% of the parasite’s instances, while P. vivax came in second, at 34.9%.

26. The direct expenses created by malaria total around $12 billion per year.

(CDC)

These costs are not centered on prevention, but rather, on illness, treatment, and premature deaths. The actual cost in lost economic growth (and of course, in human lives) is substantially greater, and difficult to calculate.

Combating Malaria 

Malaria Statistics - Prevention

27. Around three-quarters ($2.2 billion) of the funds invested in fighting malaria in 2017 went to the African region.

(WHO)

Returning to malaria in Africa, statistics and data show that $2.2 billion dollars in 2017 were invested to exclusively fight and control malaria in Africa. This includes implementing malaria prevention programs, education, elimination, testing, research, the proliferation of protective equipment, and more.

28. A malaria vaccine is undergoing pilot trials.

(Our World in Data)

In the case of total malaria deaths, statistics point toward hundreds of thousands of lives lost every ear. Unfortunately, while the disease is curable, no vaccine is yet fully available. However, one is in its pilot phase and is currently undergoing initial trials.

29. A 40% reduction in malaria case incidence, as well as its elimination in 10 countries, is planned for the year 2020.

(WHO)

The relevant malaria statistics from the 2018 World Malaria Report drafted by the WHO state that there are some ambitious, but achievable, goals for the year 2020. Namely, there are plans to have 10 countries fully eradicate malaria while also reducing the global incidence rates by 40% when compared to 2015.

30. The goals for 2030 center around reducing global malaria mortality and incidence rates by 90%.

(WHO)

Plans for 2030 are even more ambitious, with the idea of reducing both the global malaria mortality and incidence rates by over 90% compared to 2015’s numbers.

31. Over one billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been distributed across Africa since 2000.

(UNICEF Data)

When treating malaria in Africa, stats are showing some positive numbers. Almost one billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been distributed all over Africa over the last 20 years, providing significant assistance in combating the disease.

32. In 2017, funding for malaria control and elimination amounted to $3.1 billion, with 72% of funding coming from non-endemic countries.

(WHO)

According to the relevant malaria stats and facts gathered by the WHO, in 2017 $3.1 billion has been invested in controlling and eliminating malaria. Of this, 72% came from countries that do not have a malaria problem.

33. The WHO has identified 21 countries that can, by the end of 2020, eliminate malaria.

(RBM Partnership to End Malaria)

Some good news for malaria elimination. The World Health Organization has identified 21 countries that have the potential to eliminate the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria from their borders.

34. The insecticide-treated mosquito nets used to combat malaria are completely safe, even for infants.

(NCBI)

The relevant data and malaria statistics in Africa show just how useful insecticide-treated mosquito nets are. Now, one of the more problematic issues people might have with these nets is the environmental impacts of malaria-killing insecticides and what they might do to the environment once they seep into water or the ground. However, studies have shown that these nets are completely safe for everyone, including infants.

FAQs

Malaria Statistics - FAQs

1. What causes malaria? 

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite. The parasite is primarily transferred by the Anopheles mosquito, so you could also say that malaria is caused by this specific type of mosquito.

2. Is malaria a virus?

Malaria is, in fact, not an actual virus, nor is it a strain of bacteria. Rather, it’s the Plasmodium parasite, which can be found within vertebrates and insects. The relevant species that infect humans are Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium ovale.

3. What percentage of the world has malaria?

Around 219 million people have malaria, according to reports from the World Health Organization from 2017. If we take into account that there are around 7.2 billion people on Earth, then roughly 3% of the world population has malaria.

4. How is malaria transmitted?

Malaria is carried by the Anopheles mosquito, which is the only mosquito that transmits malaria. Said mosquito needs to be infected by taking blood from a person who already has this disease. After around a week, the parasites collected by the mosquito will be ready for transfer. Once the mosquito takes its next blood meal after this period, the parasite will be transferred with the insect’s saliva into the body of the individual it bites.

5. Is malaria contagious

Malaria is not a contagious disease. Instead of being spread from person to person like a virus or strain of bacteria through physical contact or air, it can really only be transmitted by mosquitoes, organ donation, blood transfusions, or shared needles. Pregnant mothers can also transfer this disease to their children while they’re in the womb. 

6. Is malaria the biggest killer in the world?

It’s very difficult to say which issue, disease, or medical problem kills the most people every year. Do we consider only deaths caused directly by the symptoms of the disease, or do we include complications? Do we count the number of deaths caused by dehydration or diarrhea or diseases that have this issue as a symptom?

Malaria is, of course, no joke, especially when you take into consideration how many people die from malaria yearly. In 2017, 435,000 deaths have been attributed to malaria. However, stroke has taken almost 6 million lives, and ischemic heart disease has claimed almost 10 million. In the case of malaria, the disease is both treatable and relatively easily prevented.

7. Where did malaria originate?

There is evidence that malaria parasites originated in Africa 30 million years ago. In fact, the parasite was found in a mosquito preserved in amber. It most likely evolved with mosquitoes and primates.

8. When was malaria at its peak?

While there is obviously no clear data for anything before and into the 19th century, there are some clear trends starting in 1990. In 2004, malaria took the greatest number of lives recorded in the last 30 years, with 930,000 souls lost to the disease.

9. What country has the highest rate of malaria?

The greatest levels of malaria cases are carried by Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, India, and Uganda. Of these, Nigeria covers 25% of the entire global malaria burden, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo at 11% and Mozambique at 5%.

10. What are the symptoms of malaria?

The symptoms of malaria are unpleasant, to say the least. When the malaria parasite enters the bloodstream of an infected individual, this person will suffer from fevers, chills, body aches, and headaches. However, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as bloody urine, are all symptoms of malaria as well. People also tend to develop anemia.

11. How does malaria kill?

Malaria can kill in several ways. First of all, one can die from the symptoms—diarrhea and vomiting can, for example, lead to life-threatening dehydration in the elderly, as well as other at-risk demographics. But the biggest problem is that the malaria-infected red blood cells are not nearly as elastic as they should be after exposure to the parasite. This means that they actually clog up major organs’ circulatory systems because the red blood cells can’t fit through smaller blood vessels. This can then, after a time, lead to organ failure. 

12. What mosquito carries malaria?

Only females of the Anopheles genus transmit malaria.

How do you prevent malaria?

There are several ways you can protect yourself if you’re wondering how to prevent malaria. First, you want to get the right preventative medicine. Schedule a doctor’s appointment and get the appropriate malaria pills. These include chloroquine phosphate, quinine sulfate, or tetracycline. A vaccine is in the works, but it’s not clear when, or even if, it will be ready.

Next, you want to minimize the chance of getting bitten. Use mosquito nets that have been treated with insecticides, close your windows, and spray yourself, and your home, with mosquito repellent.

13. Is malaria curable?

Once it has been determined that you do, in fact, have malaria, treatment can begin. The drugs and medication you get are dependent on whether you’re pregnant or not, how severe your symptoms are, your age, and which malaria parasite you’ve been infected with. 

When it comes to how to treat malaria, the best way is through artemisinin-based combination therapies and with chloroquine phosphate. The former is a combination of two or more drugs that attack the malaria parasite in different ways. The latter is also commonly used, but there are places in the world where the parasite is actually resistant to chloroquine, making it essentially useless.

14. How long does malaria last?

As far as how long the disease and recovery will last, it really depends on both the individual and the strain of malaria. Treatment usually lasts around two weeks. However, it can take anywhere between 9 and 14 days for P. falciparum to start presenting symptoms in the first place, while it takes 12–18 days for P. vivax and P. ovale, and 18–40 days for P. falciparum. In fact, P. vivax and P. ovale can actually lay dormant in the liver, spending weeks, months, or even years within the host’s body. The general malaria life cycle is tied to the Plasmodium life cycle

Conclusion

As we can see from the malaria stats in Africa and the rest of the world, this is a serious and dangerous disease, devastating many third-world and developing countries. It has been ravaging several regions for decades, but its impact on Africa is the most evident. Malaria greatly increases the child mortality rate in this region, and it represents a significant financial burden for it too.

The above malaria statistics and facts are sobering, reflecting the seriousness of malaria. The situation might seem grim, but there are some glimmers of light to be found. Decades of continuous, dedicated combat with this disease, along with increased education and awareness, should lead to its extermination in the relatively near future.

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