Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Approximately 88% of all malaria cases and 90% of all malaria deaths in 2015 occured in the African Region. High-risk groups include children, pregnant women, people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as non-immune migrants, mobile populations and travellers.
Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache and vomiting. They usually appear between 10 to 15 days after the mosquito bite. If left untreated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Malaria can cause the accumulation of fluid in the lungs and can cause the spleen to rupture. Severe forms of malaria can also cause life-threatening low blood sugar. Cerebral malaria is a severe complication that causes swelling of the brain and can result in coma or death.
Pregnant women are at the highest risk of malaria complications. Malaria can cause spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, stillbirth and severe maternal anaemia. It is also responsible for about one third of preventable low birth weight babies.
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:
The objectives of the Malaria Programme in the African Region are to:
The Programme carries out the below: