The case for malaria eradication

In 2018, there were an estimated 228 million cases and 405 000 deaths due to malaria, with 93% of the cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and 67% of the deaths occurring among children under 5 years of age. This alone should be reason enough to eradicate malaria, yet in the recent years, funding has reduced and cases have risen.Several other negative arguments can be made for the eradication of malaria:

Malaria is a disease of poverty. Malaria endemic countries have per capita income levels that are 70% lower than those of non-endemic countries.1 Therefore, it is associated with lower socioeconomic status, food insecurity, poor housing and lack of medical care.

Malaria is a disease of the environment. Malaria is currently found in tropical areas where mosquito survival is high and plenty of breeding sites are available. However, recrudescence of mosquito borne illnesses have been recorded in Europe with rising temperatures.

Malaria is a disease of children. A child dies every two minutes from malaria and those who survive often suffer impaired growth and development. And for adults in malaria-endemic areas may be less productive at work, either because they are ill from malaria or caring for sick children, which further traps them in the cycle of poverty.

Some positive arguments:

It will restore equity. Currently the global healthcare market serves the 800 million rich, while it underserves the 6.5 billion, out of which 3.2 billion are at risk of malaria2. The pandemic of COVID-19 ought to remind us that we live in a fragile and deeply interdependent world.

It aligns with SDG goals. According to the WHO, the prevention of malaria requires an integrated approach, and relates directly to all 15 SDGs. This includes greater economic growth and sustainable production.

It unlocks economic potential. WHO believes that eradicating malaria by 2030 could unleash up to USD $4 Trillion in economic potential. This is economic activity that is currently lost to the global economy.

1 Gallup JL, Sachs JD. The economic burden of malaria. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2001;64:85–96. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2001.64.85.
2 Data sourced from IMF DataMapper

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