Between 2001 and 2015, the global malaria community helped avert 1.3 billion bouts of malaria illness and 6.8 million malaria deaths. This impressive progress was made possible thanks to the scale-up of control measures, like bed nets, insecticides, diagnostics and medicines, underpinned by increased political commitment, new regional initiatives and an rise in international financing. As a result, Millennium Development Goal 6.C, to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015, was achieved.1
The World Malaria Report, the World Health Organization’s flagship malaria publication, highlights the following progress towards global targets:
In 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide, compared with 251 million cases in 2010.
The incidence rate of malaria declined globally between 2010 and 2018, from 71 to 57 cases per 1000 population at risk. However, from 2014 to 2018, the rate of change slowed dramatically, reducing to 57 in 2014 and remaining at similar levels through to 2018.
In 2018, there were an estimated 405,000 deaths from malaria globally, compared with 416,000 estimated deaths in 2017, and 585,000 in 2010.
In 2018, only the WHO African Region and the WHO South-East Asia Region showed reductions in malaria deaths compared with 2010. The WHO African Region had the largest absolute reduction in malaria deaths, from 533 000 in 2010 to 380 000 in 2018. Despite these gains, the malaria mortality reduction rate has also slowed since 2016.
Globally, the elimination net is widening, with more countries moving towards zero indigenous cases: in 2018, 49 countries reported fewer than 10,000 such cases, up from 46 countries in 2017 and 40 countries in 2010.
Paraguay and Uzbekistan were certified by WHO as malaria free in 2018, while Algeria and Argentina will be achieving certification in early 2019.
In 2016, WHO identified 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by the year 2020. WHO is working with the governments in these countries – known as “E-2020 countries” – to support their elimination acceleration goal.
Despite this success, 2018 still witnessed 405,000 malaria deaths. The 2019 World Malaria Report shows that after an unprecedented period of success in global malaria control, progress has stalled. Data from 2014–2018 highlight that no significant progress in reducing global malaria cases was made in this period.
We must not become complacent, or this tremendous progress will be reversed. Malaria remains a major cause and consequence of poverty – disproportionally affecting women and children. Eliminating and ultimately eradicating the disease would vastly improve the lives of many vulnerable families in the developing world, helping to lift them out of poverty.
The Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030, approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2015, sets ambitious but achievable targets for 2030. This strategy seeks to reduce the disease burden and eliminate malaria – objectives that are closely linked to several of the sustainable development goals, which call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
1. World Malaria Report 2016
Source for all other figures: World Malaria Report 2019