Eliminating malaria in southeast Asia requires more attention on adolescent girls

10 Oct 2021

Abena Poku-Awuku, Jaya Banerji, Valentina Buj de Lauwerier, Clara Menendez, Raquel Gonzalez, Clara Pons-Duran

The Lancet

Doi: 10.1016/S2352-4642(21)00307-2

Photo: Jackson_iStock

Malaria is one of the leading causes of death among adolescent girls in southeast Asia. Young adolescent girls (aged 10–14 years), for whom malaria is the eighth highest cause of mortality, are most affected. On the basis of the most recent data (which is for the year 2016), the malaria mortality rate for young adolescent girls in southeast Asia is 28% higher than for young adolescent boys (1·75 deaths vs 1·37 deaths [per 100 000 of the population at risk]).

Despite the evidence that malaria poses a substantial threat to the health of adolescent girls, the extent of the understanding of the issue is hampered by the scarcity of robust and recent data from research into the topic. As an example, the latest data from WHO on all-cause mortality and morbidity for adolescents was published in 2016, and very few published studies investigate the impact of malaria in adolescent girls. On the basis of the 2016 data, we suspect that progress in reducing the burden of malaria among this population has also been slow because adolescents, unlike children under the age of 5 years (who are most at risk of dying of malaria), have not been given much attention in malaria control and elimination programmes.

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