Malaria is a common, yet deadly tropical disease transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. While 90 per cent of deaths occur in Africa, malaria constitutes a significant public health problem in more than 50 countries in other regions. Around the world, malaria is associated with poor socio-economic development, marginalization and exploitation.
Malaria occurs mostly in poor tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Malaria is both a result and a cause of a lack of development. The malaria burden is highest in the countries with the lowest human development, within countries in the least developed and poorest areas, and within populations among the most disadvantaged.
In many of the countries affected by malaria, it is a leading cause of illness and death. In areas with high transmission, the most vulnerable groups are young children, who have not developed immunity to malaria yet, and pregnant women, whose immunity has been decreased by pregnancy. The costs of malaria – to individuals, families, communities, nations – are enormous.
Malaria was eliminated in many high-income countries in Europe and North America without malaria-specific interventions but as a by-product of socio-economic development. The continued prevalence of the malaria vector, albeit at low levels, without continued malaria transmission in many of these countries, shows the robustness of the achievement.