Malaria is an infectious disease that is spread by female mosquitoes that are infected with Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of these female mosquitoes, causing symptoms such as fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headache. Symptoms usually appear 8 to 25 days after infection and although they may seem mild at first, if not treated, can become more severe and eventually lead to death. Malaria is often associated with poverty and has disproportionately affected poorer and developing countries in Africa. In 2019, the leading 20 countries worldwide based on the number of new malaria cases were all located in Africa. Malaria not only causes the loss of human life in these countries, but is also responsible for great economic loss in the form of decreased work force, increased health care costs and lower rates of tourism.
Progress in the fight against malaria
Malaria remains the most serious of the mosquito-borne diseases, but there has been huge progress in the fight against malaria in recent years. From the years 2000 to 2019 the number of malaria cases worldwide decreased, with even the most susceptible regions reporting a decrease in new cases. Similarly, the number of deaths worldwide from malaria also decreased from 585,000 in the year 2010 to 405,000 in 2018.
How is progress made?
Although there is no vaccine against malaria, the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying (IRS) and antimalarial medicines, as well as early diagnosis and treatment, have contributed to the decrease in new malaria cases and deaths worldwide. Research and development of new medicines and vaccines remains strong for malaria, with 45 pharmaceutical products in the R&D pipeline in 2021. Such progress has been made possible through massive funding from various funders of malaria research and development, the two biggest of which, the U.S. National Institute of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together accounted for around half of all such funding in 2019.
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