Malaria and Extreme Poverty
What is malaria?
Mosquitoes, those pesky insects that feed on human blood, are more than just a nuisance; they also carry the parasite that causes malaria – passing it on through their night-time bites. Symptoms usually appear 9-14 days after infection and include fever, shivering, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms.
If not treated malaria can be deadly; early, accurate diagnosis and treatment is key.
You can't get malaria from casual contact with someone who's infected. It's not contagious and can't be transmitted sexually. Malaria is preventable and treatable, but it can be deadly. Worldwide, malaria causes around 225 million illnesses and 781,000 deaths every year.
Half the world’s population is at risk of catching malaria. It is particularly deadly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a mosquito-friendly climate and frequently poor prevention and treatment coverage has made it a leading killer of young children.
Did you know?
The transmission of malaria by mosquitoes was first discovered by British Doctor, Sir Ronald Ross at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on 20 August 1897. This day is now known as World Mosquito Day and Dr. Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902 for his discovery. His malaria research continues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s malaria centre.
Watch a film about world mosquito day here!
Who is affected by malaria?
Malaria is widespread in Sub Saharan Africa, affecting most African countries. Malaria also occurs across South and South East Asia as well as parts of Latin America. The semi tropical and tropical climates mean that mosquitoes carrying malaria can breed easily and the disease can incubate in the warm areas where the mosquitoes live:
Over half the world’s population is at risk from malaria. Tragically malaria often affects the poorest communities most because they cannot afford malaria prevention and treatment tools such as bed nets and medicines. Once malaria spreads, it can cost developing communities significant loss of life, drain resources and put the most vulnerable - girls, pregnant women and children - at risk.
The Fillipus family in Namibia receive mosquito nets thanks to support from Malaria No More UK.
Facts and Figures
- Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria, 781,000 people die of malaria every year and it affects the most vulnerable financially too.
- A child dies every 45 seconds of malaria.
- Over 90% of the 781,000 malaria deaths are in Africa
- 8% of all children who die before their fifth birthday die of malaria
- 40% of public health spending in some African countries affected by malaria is spent on the disease
- Malaria costs Africa over £8 billion a year in lost economic output
- It is estimated that up to 200,000 newborns die each year as a result of malaria in pregnancy and malaria can cause anaemia and death for pregnant women.
- 40% of drug expenditure in affected countries is spent on malaria drugs
We are working with Malaria No More UK to end Malaria - find out why their work is crucial to stopping the preventable loss of life from malaria:
Introducing Malaria No More UK from Malaria No More UK on Vimeo.
...with your help, we can save lives
- International funding for malaria has risen from $35million in 2000 to almost $1.5billion in 2009 – a fortyfold increase
- Almost a million lives have been saved in Africa since 2000 thanks to malaria controls
- With full funding, up to 4.2 million lives could be saved by 2015 in the 20 highest burden African countries alone
- Since 2000, over one third of the 108 malarious countries have reduced the number of malaria cases by more than 50%
- 11 African countries reported declines in the number of cases and deaths of 50% or more. Eritrea, Rwanda, and Sao Tome and Principe, for example, achieved this reduction within five years of starting a malaria control campaign
- Household net ownership reached more than 50% in 19 malarious African countries in 2010
- For £5 we can purchase, transport and deliver a bed net that will help save lives – putting a mother and child under a bed net will help to protect them against malaria
- 11 African countries are on track for eliminating malaria.
How can we tackle malaria?
Malaria carrying mosquitoes bite most at night. Sleeping under a mosquito net offers double protection providing both a physical and a chemical barrier from mosquitoes. This is one of the most simple and effective health tools available; and studies show they can cut malaria cases in children by half and deaths by 20%. Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) have insecticide impregnated into the fabric of the net so it does not wash out. Each net lasts approximately 3 years
In the picture... The Gariseb family now sleep safely under mosquito nets at night, thanks to support from Malaria No More UK.
David Beckham and Andy Murray are Malaria No More UK Leadership Council Members and staged a sporting first at Wembley Stadium to highlight the importance of mosquito nets in April 2009. Watch their video!
David Beckham and Andy Murray on Malaria No More UK from Malaria No More UK on Vimeo.
Education underpins the fight against malaria. Understanding how malaria is transmitted and what action needs to be taken at home and in health clinics to prevent, diagnose and treat this disease is essential. Healthworkers need education and support enabling them to effectively test and treat malaria; and everyone living at risk needs to understand how they can take positive action against the disease, including sleeping under a net.
Education helps protect children against malaria - and teaches them how to prevent getting bitten. Image (c)Harriet Gill.
TESTING & TREATMENT
It used to be assumed in many areas that all fevers mean malaria – and so all were treated for malaria. However, with advances in malaria control, this is fortunately no longer the case.
Rapid Diagnostic tests provide quick and accurate results enabling the right treatment to follow.
It is important now that all suspected malaria cases are confirmed by a malaria test – this universal testing policy is now being rolled out across Africa thanks to the availability of simple rapid diagnostic test kits. Those that have malaria need to be quickly treated with ACTs – the most advanced and effective malaria treatment.
There are no vaccines for malaria available. Scientists around the world are working to develop a vaccine and there are trials taking place in Africa. But the malaria parasite is proving very difficult to vaccinate against. People are hopeful in the future there will be a vaccine but in the meantime, we need to make sure people are protected from malaria and diagnosed and treated correctly.
Scientists are working on a malaria vaccine.
Case study: Ghana
100% of Ghana’s population is at risk from malaria. The disease remains a leading cause of illness and death in Ghana, accounting for a third of hospital admissions and more than a quarter of deaths amongst young children. Malaria is also a major cause of miscarriage and stillbirths in pregnant women.
Ghana Film from Malaria No More UK on Vimeo.
Malaria also contributes to poverty in Ghana, with treatment costs consuming up to one third of family income in some poorer households. Overall malaria is estimated to cost Ghana up to 6% of GDP every year in lost economic productivity. Ghana is, however, stepping up efforts to fight against this disease. The National Malaria Control Programme and its partners have set ambitious goals including aiming to:
- cover everyone with a mosquito net by the end of 2012
- reduce death and illness from malaria by 75% by 2015
Malaria No More UK is supporting Ghana’s malaria prevention efforts and progress towards its goal to cover everyone with a net by the end of 2012.
We started work early last year in one region, helping pilot a new method of net distribution, using volunteers to go home-to-home providing malaria education and hanging free mosquito nets. This campaign targeted those most vulnerable to malaria – pregnant women and children under 5. An evaluation 6 months after the first distribution found 96% of distributed nets still in homes and an increase in net ownership and usage of over 200%.
This net distribution was a pioneering collaboration between local organisations, international donors and the government’s National Malaria Control Programme. It has engaged significant national and international support, with partners including the Ghana, UK and US governments, Global Fund, World Bank and ourselves supporting expansion of these net distribution campaigns to now cover everyone at risk from malaria.
We are proud to be part of these campaigns which have, by August 2011, distributed over 2.5 million nets to help protect over 5 million people, that’s one fifth of Ghana’s total population... and we are now working with partners to identify the best ways we can continue to support the roll out of these campaigns across the country.
Malaria and the MDGs
The widespread effects of malaria impact all of the Millennium Development Goals. It puts maternal health at risk, encourages extreme poverty and prevents individuals from working or staying in education. Malaria costs developing nations billions of dollars every year and especially threatens the lives of children and women.
MDG 1 Eradicate extreme poverty: Malaria costs Africa approximately £8 billion/$12 billion each year and approximately 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) loss in some countries. It also accounts for 40% of health spending and 30% of household health expenditures in the worse affected countries. Families suffering from malaria are forced to spend precious money on medicines and lose days of work to sickness and travelling to health clinics or hospitals.
MDG2 Achieve universal education: Malaria is a major cause of absenteeism for teachers and pupils in Africa. Cerebral malaria can cause brain damage and prevent children from attending school or adults from being able to earn a wage.
MDG 4 Reduce childhood mortality: Malaria is one of the leading causes of childhood death worldwide. In countries such as Ghana it is the largest killer of children under 5. The disease can also attack children before they are born – causing permanent brain damage and even death.
Malaria claims the lives of over 1800 children every day. Image (c)Harriet Gill
MDG 5 Improve maternal health: Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to malaria – it can lead to anaemia and in turn affect their unborn babies.
It is estimated that 10,000 pregnant women and 200,000 infants die as a result of malaria infection during pregnancy each year.
MDG 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases: The Global Malaria Action Plan calls for several goals to be met in the fight against malaria. People living with HIV need to take extra care in protecting themselves against malaria.
MDG 8 Develop global partnerships: Funding to tackle malaria has greatly increased in the past few years but this increase needs to be sustained. There have been a number of partnerships between the public and private sectors which have helped develop new medicines, tests and now potential vaccines.
The Global Malaria Action Plan!
World leaders and the global malaria community gathered on occasion of the 2008 MDG Malaria Summit on 5 September 2008, in New York to endorse an ambitious Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP).
The GMAP provides a global framework for action around which partners can coordinate their efforts and includes:
- Reducing global malaria cases from 2000 levels by 50% in 2010 and by 75% in 2015;
- Reducing global malaria deaths from 2000 levels by 50% in 2010 and to near zero preventable deaths in 2015;
- Eliminating malaria in 8-10 countries by 2015 and afterwards in all countries in the pre-elimination phase today;
- And, in the long term, eradicating malaria world-wide by reducing the global incidence to zero through progressive elimination in countries.
Click here for more information on the Global Malaria Action Plan!
There is a global movement dedicated to reaching near zero deaths from malaria by 2015.
Roll Back Malaria (RBM) is leading the global partnership dedicated to coordinating efforts to fight malaria, and Malaria No More co-founder Ray Chambers is spearheading these efforts as the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on Malaria. The movement is supported by key international funders UKAid, the President’s Malaria Initiative, World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Image from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. To learn more, you can interact with this graphic here.
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a network of over 30 African Heads of State who meet regularly to review progress in their countries and to support one another to accelerate their efforts. The National Malaria Control programmes in these countries are a key focus of the battle to end malaria. The private sector is also investing in Africa and helping protect workers and customers from malaria and faith groups are key to helping raise funds and awareness for malaria in the UK and internationally.
Finally the international community relies on a hugely talented and diverse group of researchers and scientists to come up with new and improved ways to tackle malaria.
Roll Back Malaria
Malaria No More UK
The World Bank
The Malaria Atlas Project
The American President’s Malaria Initiative (US)
Dept. For International Development (DFID UK)
The Global Fund for HIV and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation