“Zero malaria starts with me”



World Malaria Day
25 April 2019

After more than a decade of steady advances in fighting malaria, progress has levelled off.  According to WHO’s latest World malaria report, no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths in 2017, at 435 000, remained virtually unchanged over the previous year.

Urgent action is needed to get the global response to malaria back on track – and ownership of the challenge lies in the hands of countries most affected by malaria. On World Malaria Day 2019, WHO joins the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the African Union Commission and other partner organizations in promoting “Zero malaria starts with me,,” a grassroots campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.

Key facts

  • Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
  • In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 87 countries.
  • The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 435 000 in 2017.
  • The WHO African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2017, the region was home to 92% of malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths.
  • Total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated US$ 3.1 billion in 2017. Contributions from governments of endemic countries amounted to US$ 900 million, representing 28% of total funding.

Disease burden

According to the latest World malaria report, released in November 2018, there were 219 million cases of malaria in 2017, up from 217 million cases in 2016. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 435 000 in 2017, a similar number to the previous year.

The WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2017, the region was home to 92% of malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths.

In 2017, 5 countries accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases worldwide: Nigeria (25%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), Mozambique (5%), India (4%) and Uganda (4%).

Children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2017, they accounted for 61% (266 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

World malaria report 2018

Vaccines against malaria

RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) is the first and, to date, the only vaccine to show partial protection against malaria in young children. It acts against P. falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. Among children who received 4 doses in large-scale clinical trials, the vaccine prevented approximately 4 in 10 cases of malaria over a 4-year period.

In view of its public health potential, WHO’s top advisory bodies for malaria and immunization have jointly recommended phased introduction of the vaccine in selected areas of sub-Saharan Africa. The vaccine will be introduced in 3 pilot countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – in 2019.

The pilot programme will address several outstanding questions related to the use of the vaccine in real-life settings. It will be critical for understanding how best to deliver the required four doses of RTS,S; the vaccine’s potential role in reducing childhood deaths; and its safety in the context of routine use.

This WHO-coordinated programme is a collaborative effort with ministries of health in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi and a range of in-country and international partners, including PATH, a non-profit organization, and GSK, the vaccine developer and manufacturer.

Q&A on the malaria vaccine implementation programme
Brochure on the vaccine

WHO response

WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 

The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 – adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015 – provides a technical framework for all malaria-endemic countries. It is intended to guide and support regional and country programmes as they work towards malaria control and elimination.

The Strategy sets ambitious but achievable global targets, including:

  • Reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90% by 2030.
  • Reducing malaria mortality rates by at least 90% by 2030.
  • Eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries by 2030.
  • Preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.

This Strategy was the result of an extensive consultative process that spanned 2 years and involved the participation of more than 400 technical experts from 70 Member States.

The Global Malaria Programme (GMP)

The WHO Global Malaria Programme (GMP) coordinates WHO’s global efforts to control and eliminate malaria by:

  • setting, communicating and promoting the adoption of evidence-based norms, standards, policies, technical strategies, and guidelines;
  • keeping independent score of global progress;
  • developing approaches for capacity building, systems strengthening, and surveillance; and
  • identifying threats to malaria control and elimination as well as new areas for action.

GMP is supported and advised by the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC), a group of global malaria experts appointed following an open nomination process. The mandate of MPAC is to provide strategic advice and technical input, and extends to all aspects of malaria control and elimination, as part of a transparent, responsive and credible policy-setting process.

“High burden high impact approach”

At the World Health Assembly in May 2018, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for an aggressive new approach to jump-start progress against malaria. A new country-driven response – “High burden to high impact” – was launched in Mozambique in November 2018. 
The approach will be driven by the 11 countries that carry the highest burden of the disease (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania). Key elements include: 

  1. Political will to reduce the toll of malaria; 
  2. Strategic information to drive impact; 
  3. Better guidance, policies and strategies; and 
  4. A coordinated national malaria response. 

Catalyzed by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, “High burden to high impact” builds on the principle that no one should die from a disease that can be prevented and diagnosed, and that is entirely curable with available treatments.