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Impact of Malaria

Malaria occurs mostly in poor, tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

This map shows an approximation of the parts of the world where malaria transmission occurs.

Africa is the most affected due to a combination of factors:

A very efficient mosquito (Anopheles gambiae complex) is responsible for high transmission.
The predominant parasite species is Plasmodium falciparum, which is the species that is
most likely to cause severe malaria and death.
Local weather conditions often allow transmission to occur year round.
Scarce resources and socio-economic instability have hindered efficient malaria control
In other areas of the world malaria is a less prominent cause of deaths, but can cause substantial
disease and incapacitation, especially in rural areas of some countries in South America and South

Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide. It is a leading cause of death
and disease (/malaria/about/disease.html) in many developing countries, where young children and
pregnant women are the groups most affected. According to the World Health Organizations World
Malaria Report 2013 (
( and the Global Malaria Action Plan


3.4 billion people (half the worlds population) live in areas at risk of malaria transmission in
106 countries and territories

In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 207 million clinical episodes, and 627,000 deaths. An
estimated 91% of deaths in 2010 were in the African Region.

Pregnant woman having a blood smear taken at an antenatal clinic at the Maela Camp in Thailand near the Burmese Border. Pregnant women are at increased
risk of malaria. Image contributed by the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (
( , Mae Sot,

Who Is Most Vulnerable?

The most vulnerable are persons with no or little immunity against the disease. In areas with high
transmission (such as Africa south of the Sahara), the most vulnerable groups are:
Young children, who have not yet developed partial immunity to malaria
Pregnant women (/malaria/malaria_worldwide/reduction/iptp.html) , whose immunity is
decreased by pregnancy, especially during the first and second pregnancies
Travelers or migrants coming from areas with little or no malaria transmission, who lack
In areas with lower transmission (such as Latin America and Asia), residents are less frequently
infected. Many persons may reach adult age without having built protective immunity and are thus
susceptible to the disease, including severe and fatal illness.

Social and Economic Toll

Malaria imposes substantial costs to both individuals and governments.
Costs to individuals and their families include purchase of drugs for treating malaria at home;
expenses for travel to, and treatment at, dispensaries and clinics; lost days of work; absence from
school; expenses for preventive measures; expenses for burial in case of deaths.
Costs to governments include maintenance, supply and staffing of health facilities; purchase of
drugs and supplies; public health interventions against malaria, such as insecticide spraying or
distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets; lost days of work with resulting loss of income; and lost
opportunities for joint economic ventures and tourism.
Direct costs (for example, illness, treatment, premature death) have been estimated to be at least
US$ 12 billion per year. The cost in lost economic growth is many times more than that.
Page last reviewed: March 26, 2014
Page last updated: March 26, 2014
Content source: Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30329-4027,
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO