Preventing Malaria

On 2 March, a woman and her child, refugees from Sudan’s Darfur Region, sit on a bed in a UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centre in the eastern town of Goz Beïda, Ouaddaï Region.
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UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0402/KATE HOLT

Malaria is the sixth biggest killer of children under five globally, yet the disease is 100% preventable and treatable. Currently, about 3.2 billion people — almost half of the world's population — are at risk, with children under 5 accounting for more than two-thirds of all deaths associated with the disease.

Some countries carry a heavier share of the malaria burden than others: in 2015, 89 percent of all new cases and 91 percent of deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa. But the good news is that malaria deaths have plunged by 60% since 2000, translating into 6.2 million lives saved, the vast majority of them children's.

The insecticide-treated mosquito net, or ITN, is one of the most effective weapons against malaria. UNICEF is one of the world's largest providers of these nets, distributing ITNs to more than 1 million families in 2016 alone. Since 2000, UNICEF and partners have distributed an estimated 1 billion ITNs in Africa. In the last decade, the number of children under 5 sleeping beneath these nets in sub-Saharan Africa has soared from less than 5 percent to nearly 50 percent.  

In 2016, the global total of international and domestic funding for malaria control and elimination was $2.7 billion — less than half of what was needed. In order to achieve the goal of a malaria-free world, annual spending requirements need to more than double from the current level to $6.4 billion by 2020.

Together, we can help prevent malaria infection and provide access to lifesaving treatment to the world's most vulnerable children.

Fast Fact