World Malaria Day: Key facts and figures about malaria
What is Malaria?
- Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted from person to person by the bite of infected female mosquitoes. These mosquitoes usually bite from around dusk to dawn. Once transferred to the human body, the infection travels to the liver where it multiplies and then enters the red blood cells. Inside the red blood cells the parasites multiply rapidly until they burst releasing even more parasites into the blood stream.
- Malaria begins as a flu-like illness, with symptoms first occurring 9-14 days after infection. Symptoms include fever (typical cycles of fever, shaking chills, and drenching sweats may develop), joint pain, headaches, frequent vomiting, convulsions and coma. Malarial death may be due to brain damage (cerebral malaria), or damage to vital organs. The reduction of red blood cells can cause anaemia.
- There are four main species of the malaria parasite: P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. vivax and P. ovale. P. falciparum is the main cause of severe clinical malaria and death.
- If simple malaria is left untreated it can become severe; around eight million malaria cases progress to severe malaria annually. Severe malaria causes organ damage and leads to death if untreated.
Treatment and prevention
- For simple malaria, the treatment is a three-day course of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). For severe malaria, an injection of artesunate is needed. Artesunate reduces the risk of death by 39 percent in adults and 24 percent in children.
- In 2010, World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines were altered to recommend the use of artesunate, a derivative of artemisinin, for the treatment of severe malaria in children.
- In 2011, MSF treated 364,848 patients in outpatient departments and 10,503 in inpatient departments for malaria. The majority of these cases were severe, and half of them were treated at Baraka hospital – one of our projects in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Cost of Malaria Prevention and Treatment Material
- Bed Net £3.30 Long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net
- Spray £0.33 (very small room) to £1.30 (multi-room home)
Insecticide spray that provides six months effective protection against the infected mosquitoes
- Tests £0.33 Rapid diagnostic test for malaria
- Simple Malaria
£8.20 ACT pills to cure 13 adults with uncomplicated malaria in three days
£0.25 Three-day course of anti-malarial pills for babies (2-11 months)
£0.28 For three-day course of anti-malarial pills for children (1-5 years)
£0.44 For three-day course of anti-malarial pills for an older child (6-13 years)
£0.63 For a three-day course of anti-malarial pills for an adult
- Severe Malaria
£1.88 Treatment for severe malaria via injection for a child
*prices as per November 2011
MSF in the DRC
To read more about MSF's treatment of malaria in the Democratic Republic of Congo, click here.