Fighting Malaria and Saving Lives

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South Korean activists sit in mosquito nets in a campaign to mark World Malaria Day in Seoul, South Korea.
South Korean activists sit in mosquito nets in a campaign to mark World Malaria Day in Seoul, South Korea, on April 25, 2010.

Fighting Malaria and Saving Lives

World Malaria Day showcases the global efforts to control and eliminate malaria. Every year on April 25, partners come together to celebrate success, recognize health workers, and underscore the need for expanded investment as well as sustained political commitment for malaria prevention, control, and elimination. On this occasion, the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented together with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), releases its Twelfth Annual Report to Congress, which describes the U.S. Government's financial and technical contributions to the global fight against malaria.

When it was launched in 2006, the goal of the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) was to reduce malaria-related mortality by 50 percent across 15 high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa through a rapid scale-up of four proven and highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures: insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs); indoor residual spraying (IRS); accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs); and intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp).


With the passage of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde Global Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act in 2008, PMI developed a U.S. Government Malaria Strategy for 2009-2014.  Consistent with this strategy and the increase in annual appropriations supporting PMI, four new countries in sub-Saharan Africa and one regional program in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Southeast Asia were added in 2011.  Under the PMI Strategy for 2015-2020, the U.S. Government's goal is to work with PMI-supported countries and partners to further reduce malaria deaths and substantially decrease malaria morbidity, towards the long-term goal of elimination. In FY 2017, thanks to increased funding for PMI from the U.S. Congress, PMI announced plans for a five-country expansion adding programs in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger and Sierra Leone, which grew PMI's reach to 24 malaria-endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, PMI supports Burma, Cambodia, and a regional program in the Greater Mekong Subregion, helping those countries tackle the challenge of antimalarial drug resistance.

The U.S. Government's leadership and its financial and technical contributions through PMI have been central to the remarkable achievements against malaria. The World Health Organization estimates global efforts have helped reduce malaria deaths by more than 60 percent, saving almost 7 million lives, and preventing more than 1 billion malaria cases between 2000 and 2015.

In PMI focus countries, the gains in malaria control have been impressive since PMI was launched. To date, excluding the five new PMI countries announced in 2017, all 19 PMI focus countries in Africa have data from paired nationwide surveys and have documented declines in all-cause mortality rates among children under five.  The large-scale rollout of malaria prevention and treatment measures across sub-Saharan Africa during the past decade has been an important factor in these child survival improvements.

While completely preventable and treatable, malaria still kills 445,000 people each year, mostly children under age five, and sickens hundreds of millions more, often over and over again. As many as 91 percent of these deaths occur in Africa.

On World Malaria Day, we celebrate these successes and recommit ourselves in the fight against malaria.

About the Author: Irene Koek serves as the Acting U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator for the

President’s Malaria Initiative.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.

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