Malaria is a disease caused by the blood parasite Plasmodium, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Each year, an estimated 219 million people are infected with malaria, causing over 600,000 deaths – mostly children under the age of five.
Malaria is particularly devastating in Africa, where it is a leading killer of children. In fact, there are 10 new cases of malaria every second. Every 60 seconds, a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection and 90% of all malaria deaths occur in the region. When combined with HIV/AIDS, malaria is even more deadly, particularly for pregnant women and children.
More than 40 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where malaria is rampant. But the impact malaria has on these countries goes beyond the health of its people – it costs billions of dollars in treatment and lost productivity each year.
Malaria decreases gross domestic product in countries with high disease rates. Over the long term, these economic losses add up, resulting in substantial differences in GDP between countries with and without malaria, particularly in Africa. This presents an enormous challenge to efforts to lift people out of poverty.
Increases school and work absenteeismOn top of the burden on local healthcare systems, malaria illness and death cost Africa approximately $12 billion each year in lost productivity. The effects permeate almost every sector. Malaria:
*Facts from the World Health Organization
While malaria remains one of the deadliest diseases in Africa, infections can be prevented by sleeping under long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs). These nets, which are designed to last at least three years, work by creating a protective barrier against deadly malaria-carrying mosquitoes that typically bite at night.
The benefits of these bed nets extend even further than protecting those sleeping underneath them. The insecticide woven into each net makes entire communities safer – killing mosquitoes so that they can’t go on to bite others who may not be protected by a net. Bed nets can reduce malaria transmissions by as much as 90 percent in areas with high coverage rates.