Malaria fact file

29 April 2003
  • Though malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, it still claims more than one million African lives annually, mostly children under the age of five, and mostly in sub Saharan Africa.
  • Every year there are over 300 million clinical cases of malaria, five times as many as combined cases of TB, AIDS, measles and leprosy. Malaria is responsible for one out of every four childhood deaths in Africa.
  • Women are four times as likely to get sick from and twice as likely to die from malaria if they are pregnant. Malaria-afflicted families are able to harvest only 40% of their crops, compared with healthy families, suggesting a link between malaria and poverty.
  • The direct and indirect costs of malaria in Africa are estimated to exceed $2-billion annually. It is believed it could be controlled with a budget of one tenth of this amount.
  • Malaria slows economic growth in African countries by an estimated 1.3% each year.
  • The cheapest and most effective drug, chloroquine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness. In some parts of the world, malaria is resistant to the four leading front-line drugs.
  • Malaria occurs on 90 countries at present (in 1955 it was found in 140 countries).
  • 29% of the world's population (1.62 billion people) live where malaria is now increasing after having been reduced in the past. 400 million people live with endemic malaria unchanged by control.
  • In 2001 the United Nations announced its Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative aimed at halving the world's malaria burden, using interventions known to be effective against malaria.
  • There are four malaria species, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium malariae. Plasmodium falciparum is the most dangerous. Unfortunately it is also the most common in Africa, responsible for between 85% and 90% of cases.
  • In South Africa, malaria is found mainly along the country's north eastern borders in the three "malaria provinces" of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
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