Fighting Malaria

While estimated malaria mortality rates have dropped by more than 60 percent between 2001 and 2015 globally, malaria remains a major cause of death among children (WHO, 2016). Although the disease is preventable and curable, it is estimated that a child dies every minute from malaria. In Asia and the Americas, malaria causes fewer severe illnesses and deaths, but antimalarial drug resistance is a serious and growing problem.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been committed to fighting malaria since the 1950s. Malaria prevention and control remains an important U.S. foreign assistance priority. Effective foreign assistance, including malaria control, is a critical component of the U.S. Government's national security strategy with investments in global health and malaria contributing to economic and political stability.

USAID works closely with the governments of malaria endemic countries to strengthen their capacity to prevent and treat the disease. USAID engages with global partners through the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), through technical collaboration with the World Health Organization Global Malaria Programme, and through other bilateral and multi-donor or stakeholder forums. USAID also invests in research and development of malaria vaccines and new antimalarial drugs and insecticide-based vector control tools.

USAID's leadership and investments in malaria control efforts do more than save lives and protect the people most vulnerable to disease. Our efforts promote the economic growth and stability of communities and nations, while advancing American prosperity and security.

The key interventions supported by USAID include:

  • Indoor residual spraying (IRS): IRS is the organized, timely spraying of an insecticide on the inside walls of houses or dwellings. It kills adult mosquitoes before they can transmit malaria parasites to another person.
  • Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs): An insecticide-treated mosquito net hung over sleeping areas protects people by repelling mosquitoes and killing those that land on it.
  • Intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women (IPTp): IPTp involves the administration of an antimalarial drug to a pregnant woman at each prenatal visit, which protects her against maternal anemia and reduces the likelihood of low birthweight and perinatal death.
  • Diagnosis and treatment with lifesaving drugs: Effective case management entails diagnostic testing for malaria to ensure that all patients with malaria are properly identified and receive a quality-assured artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).
  • Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC): SMC is a WHO-recommended approach to prevent malaria among young children in parts of the African Sahel sub-region with highly seasonal malaria transmission. It entails the administration of a curative dose of antimalarial drugs at monthly intervals to all children aged 3–59 months without malaria symptoms in a targeted area over a limited transmission season.

The U.S. President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) works in 24 focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa and supports two country programs and one regional program in the Greater Mekong Subregion in Asia. PMI is an interagency initiative led by USAID and implemented together with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, PMI launched its 6-year strategy for 2015–2020, which takes into account the progress over the past decade and the new challenges that have arisen. It is also in line with the goals articulated in the Roll Back Malaria Partnership's second generation global malaria action plan, Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria (AIM) 2016–2030: for a Malaria-Free World [PDF, 18.6MB] and the World Health Organization's (WHO's) updated Global Technical Strategy: 2016–2030 [PDF, 1.0MB]. The U.S. Government's goal under the PMI Strategy 2015–2020 [PDF, 8.9MB] is to work with PMI-supported countries and partners to further reduce malaria deaths and substantially decrease malaria morbidity, toward the long-term goal of elimination.

USAID also provides support to malaria control efforts to Burundi in Africa and supports malaria control and elimination in Latin America and the Caribbean region.