What is malaria?

Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

The first symptoms – fever, headache, and chills – usually appear 10–15 days after the infected mosquito bite and may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria.

Malaria can progress to severe illness and death within a period of 24 hours.

According to World Health Organizations’s 2021 World malaria report, nearly half the global population is at risk.

Last year, ~241 million malaria cases were reported and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide – which was an increase of ~14 million cases and 69,000 more deaths compared to 2020.

Approximately two-thirds of the additional deaths were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To learn more, visit the WHO’s Malaria Q&A.

Sign of hope

For decades, the only tools available to combat malaria were limited to vector control and preventive chemotherapy.

In October 2021, the WHO recommended the broad use of the world’s first effective malaria vaccine among children living in regions with moderate to high malaria transmission.

The vaccine has significantly reduced malaria and deadly severe malaria among young children.

It is our hope that an effective malaria vaccine for adults isn’t too far away.

World Malaria Day

The world recently celebrated World Malaria Day, which aims to unite the global community around the goal of a world free of malaria. 

The theme – Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives – was a call to develop new malaria-fighting tools and strategies and to use resources to end malaria worldwide by 2030.

If you have questions, contact us at dos-dhmosh-public-health@un.org.

The Public Health Unit in the Division of Healthcare Management and Occupational Safety and Health (DHMOSH) is part of the Office of Support Operations (OSO), Department of Operational Support (DOS).

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