Malaria in developing countries

Malaria is an infectious disease transmitted by a mosquito-borne parasite. The most common way people catch malaria is when they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

The disease can quickly become life-threatening, often within 24 to 48 hours. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable.

There were approximately 212 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, causing 429,000 deaths. In Africa, children and pregnant women account for most of these cases.

People who live in sub-Saharan Africa are most affected by malaria, reporting the vast majority of cases and deaths in 2015. People who live in remote areas are more at-risk too.

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease. Health has been a long-standing focus of Canada’s development efforts.

Reducing the rate of new cases

Between 2000 and 2015 global efforts helped to reduce the rate of new malaria cases among populations at risk by 21 %. In the same period, malaria death rates in populations at risk fell by 60% globally and by 65% in children younger than five years of age.

In 2015 almost 100 countries and territories had high rates of malaria infections. According to the World Health Organization 10 countries are within reach of eliminating malaria by 2020. Another 20 countries are close to being able to do the same.

Canada focuses its efforts on prevention, diagnosis and effective treatment of malaria, particularly for vulnerable populations.

We work alongside key partners to prevent and treat malaria.

The Global Fund

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an international financing institution that funds programs to prevent and treat these three diseases.

Canada has contributed $2.9 billion to the Global Fund since its inception, including $804 million for 2017 to 2019.

Since 2002, with support from Canada and other international donors, programs supported by the Global Fund have distributed 713 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Global Fund programs have also treated 582 million people with cases of malaria.

Rapid Access Expansion Program

The Rapid Access Expansion program of the World Health Organization assists the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Nigeria.

They work to reduce child mortality by working within communities to provide services that diagnose and treat malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea.

From 2012 to 2015, through the Rapid Access Expansion program:

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a global health partnership to introduce new and underused vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

Canada has committed $500 million to Gavi for the 2016-2020 period and has providing more than a billion dollars in support to date.

Gavi is supporting the World Health Organization’s malaria vaccine pilots, to provide real-world insight on the RTS,S malaria vaccine, developed by GSK, with support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These pilots will build the evidence as to how immunization can be best implemented in Africa. The vaccine has potential to save lives through malaria prevention.

Effective antimalarial treatment

In addition, as part of Canada’s support, the most effective antimalarial treatment (artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACTs) and rapid diagnostic tests are being made available to patients in their own communities, where the need is most urgent.

Another important aspect of the initiative is training health care workers so that they can identify and treat malaria, as well as pneumonia and diarrhea—the two other main causes of death in children under the age of five.

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