Overview: Malaria


04 0550The WHO African Region continues to bear the brunt of the global burden of malaria. In 2013, an estimated 163 million cases of malaria occurred in the African Region. This caused approximately 528 000 deaths. Between 2000 and 2013, the estimated number of malaria cases in the at risk population declined by 34% while malaria death rates declined by 54% in the African Region. In spite of this progress, countries in the Region are not likely to attain the World Health Assembly target of a 75% reduction in malaria cases and deaths by 2015.

Malaria continues to have a severe socioeconomic impact on our populations. It is one of the causes of household poverty because it results in absenteeism from the daily activities of productive living and income generation. Malaria also continues to prevent many school children from attending school due to illness, diminishing their capacity to realise their full potential.

Malaria is preventable and curable if diagnosed early and prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies used. Several medications are available for chemoprevention but these medicines are not 100% protective and must be combined with personal protective measures such as:

  • Using long lasting insecticidal bed nets (LLINs);
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers;
  • Applying insect repellent on any exposed skin, especially when going out at night when mosquitos are most active;
  • Using indoor residual spraying (IRS).

Malaria Programme

The objectives of the Malaria Programme in the African Region are to:

  • reduce mortality due to malaria
  • reduce malaria morbidity
  • maintain malaria free areas
  • expand areas where malaria is controlled and
  • reduce the adverse health and socio-economic consequences due to malaria.

The Programme carries out the below:

  • Provides normative guidance and generic tools to member states and strengthen human resource capacity for intensifying Malaria prevention and control efforts towards attainment of global, regional and national goals and targets.
  • To support member states in accessing and managing additional resources (including anti-malarials, Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets, diagnostics and other commodities) from global, regional and national partnerships for malaria prevention and control.
  • To provide technical support to countries for accelerating and scaling up cost-effective interventions such as Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets, Indoor Residual Spraying, Malaria In Pregnancy/Intermittent Preventive Treatment in pregnancy, Case management, Epidemic Preparedness and Response
  • To provide technical support to member states for strengthening procurement & supply management systems and laboratory services and networks.
  • To support member states to strengthen surveillance, monitoring and evaluation systems for malaria prevention and control
  • To strengthen capacity for the conduct of operational research for evidence-based decision making.