April 25th is World Malaria Day, an annual observance that brings the global community together to raise awareness about malaria, reflect on progress, and reaffirm commitments to ending this deadly disease.
Together, the world has made tremendous progress against malaria. In 2018, there were 228 million malaria cases and 405,000 deaths - down from the year before and significantly less than the 321 million cases and 995,000 deaths predicted if malaria infection rates had stayed as high as they were in 2000. This means collective efforts are working, and new challenges continue to be overcome.
The U.S. Government—through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative and the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria—has played a vital and leading role in these achievements combating these infectious diseases.
Still, about half of the world's population is at risk for malaria. And despite being preventable, this mosquito-borne disease remains a leading cause of sickness and death across much of sub-Saharan Africa--with pregnant women and young children at the highest risk.
Clearly, our work to end malaria is not yet complete. No one in the 21st century should have to suffer from malaria, let alone die from it.
The U.S. Government remains committed to supporting affected countries in building the capacity and strengthening the systems they need to combat malaria. Many of these same systems can also help countries respond to other health threats and public health emergencies, such as COVID-19.
This World Malaria Day, we urge communities around the world to advocate for the continuation of malaria prevention and control programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing these programs will not only prevent a tragic spike in malaria cases and deaths among the most vulnerable, they it will also help reduce the strain on health systems as they respond to COVID-19. Ensuring strong, resilient malaria programs will save many lives.