Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted via the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. There are five species of parasites that cause malaria in humans, with the vast majority of deaths caused by Plasmodium falciparum.


Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases in the world. In 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria worldwide and 445,000 malaria-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization.


Malaria is predominantly found throughout the world’s tropical and sub-tropical areas, mainly in Africa, Central and South America, Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.


Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Malaria is associated with serious organ failure as well as blood and metabolism abnormalities. If left untreated, malaria can lead to severe brain damage as well as death1


Malaria has been impacting human survival for 10,000 years. Throughout history the most critical factors in the spread or eradication of disease have been human behavior (shifting population centers, changing farming methods and the like) and living standards. By the twentieth century, scientists had discovered that malaria is transmitted by specific mosquito species. This was followed by decades of testing to determine ways to prevent and control malaria.

During the first half of the twentieth century, the most important contributions were the development of malaria epidemiology, including the study of the genesis of epidemics and their possible forecasting and prevention. The discovery of the potential of the insecticide DDT for vector control, was the main determinant for proposing the global malaria eradication campaign of the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, when the lofty goal for eradication was not achieved, programs slowed down and were inconsistent, and the incidence of malaria rose again.

In 1998, the World Health Organization launched the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which was designed to rally forces commensurate with the magnitude of the problem, while aiming at realistic objectives. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, control efforts included mass use of preventative methods in malaria endemic countries including insecticide treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying. This has led to great progress. Malaria-related deaths have decreased by over 25% since 2000 worldwide and by 33% in Africa2,3.

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Although malaria can be deadly, it is a preventable and treatable disease. Anopheles mosquitoes bite predominantly at night, so sleeping under an insecticide-treated net each night can prevent the transmission of malaria in malaria endemic regions. Indoor residual spraying of insecticides is another method that provides a first line of defense against malaria.

Insecticide Resistance Poses New Threat

Recently, insecticide resistance has become a growing problem, with the potential to thwart malaria control efforts. WHO (1992) defined resistance as “an inherited characteristic that imparts an increased tolerance to a pesticide, or group of pesticides, such that the resistant individuals are not killed by the normally lethal dose of the compounds to which they are exposed.” Every year, insecticide resistance is increasingly being documented in more countries. Sixty-four countries with ongoing malaria transmission have reported resistance to at least one insecticide4. New preventative methods are needed in high-resistance areas such as the use of a combination insecticide treated bed net which provides increased efficacy over mono-treated bed nets against resistant malaria vectors. For more information, go to PermaNet®.

Read more at PermaNet®

Recent News

  • Malaria No More honors Mikkel Vestergaard as one of ten innovators that will make possible the end of malaria in our lifetimes
  • US President’s Malaria Initiative visits Vestergaard-Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research
  • Vestergaard joins Roll Back Malaria and Business Alliance against Malaria at World Health Assembly calling for the rapid uptake of innovative tools to eliminate malaria

Malaria Research

IR Mapper is a tool that helps inform vector control strategies by mapping insecticide resistance in mosquitoes that transmit malaria, Zika, Dengue and other mosquito borne diseases. This helps inform vector control strategies.


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