Malaria on the rise in 2021!

Even before the emergence of COVID-19, progress in malaria control was stagnating and the world was no longer on track to meet the 2020 targets of the WHO Global Malaria Strategy.

The impact of service disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the significant increase in cases (14 million) and deaths (69,000) between 2019 and 2020.

Increase in the number of cases

The number of malaria cases rose from 227 million in 2019 to 241 million in 2020, an increase of 14 million (with most of the increase occurring in countries in the WHO African Region).

Increased number of deaths

An estimated 69,000 more people died from malaria in 2020 compared to 2019 (627,000 vs. 558,000)..

Nearly two-thirds (47,000) of the additional malaria deaths resulted from disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services during the pandemic. National malaria control programs distributed́ nearly 48 million fewer artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) treatments in 2020 than in 2019.

In addition, as of this year, a new WHO statistical methodology is being applied to calculate the number of malaria deaths in children under 5 years of age since 2000. This new methodology accounts for 1/3 of the additional deaths (22,000) and shows that malaria accounts for a larger share (7.8%) of deaths in children under 5 than previously thought (4.8%)

These new estimates underscore the fact that the WHO Africa Region continues to suffer the most from malaria. The African continent alone accounts for 96% of global malaria deaths in 2020.

Sub-Saharan African countries have extremely high incidence rates. For seventeen of them, WHO estimates that more than a quarter of the population contracted the disease last year, and for the most affected countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali and the Central African Republic – more than one in three inhabitants. Children under 5 years of age are the primary victims of the disease, accounting for 80% of related deaths.