The Global Picture
Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease yet it continues to kill nearly one million people every year, primarily children under the age of five. In 2006, there were an estimated 247 million malaria cases among the 3.3 billion people at risk. Globally, 40 per cent of the world’s population is at risk. In 2008, there were 109 countries where malaria was widespread, almost half of which are in Africa.
Malaria is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Evidence has shown that the disease slows economic growth by 1.3 per cent per year in African countries, resulting in an annual economic loss of
US$ 12 billion. In most malaria-endemic countries, the disease is the leading cause of visits to health facilities and of death in hospitals.
The global community is fully committed to reducing disease and death due to malaria. The “Roll Back Malaria” initiative has over 500 partners working together to provide a coordinated global response to the disease, and to achieve ambitious targets for its reduction by 2010. Similarly, one of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals is that incidence of the disease will be falling by 2015.
Given the commitment to these targets by countries throughout the world, the past five years have seen an enormous increase in resources available for malaria prevention and treatment including long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), medicinal treatment (using artemesinin-based combination therapy), indoor residual spraying of insecticide and preventative treatment during pregnancy.
The IFRC's Response to Malaria
The International Federation’s fight against malaria is focused on social mobilization (encouraging and assisting communities to work together to fight the disease), communication aimed at changing behaviour, and assistance to households with LLIN distribution and hanging through the flagship programmes of “Hang Up” and “Keep Up”. It also supports individual countries’ ministries of health in achieving the RBM 2010 targets.
Examples of this work
Social mobilization and behaviour change communication in Nigeria
In 2008, the Nigeria Red Cross Society (NRCS), in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross, the International Federation and other partners, took part in the first ever country-wide pilot distribution of LLINs. The NRCS mobilized over 900 volunteers to carry out the project. After the LLINs were distributed, the volunteers also undertook Hang Up activities to encourage the correct, nightly use of LLINs by communities across the whole of Nigeria.
Procurement and free distribution of bednets: Burkina Faso
The Burkina Faso Red Cross (BFRC), with support from the International Federation and the country’s ministry of health carried out a pilot project to distribute one LLIN for every two people throughout the district of Diebougou. The International Federation donated the 60,000 LLINs whilst the BFRC volunteers carried out a household census before distributing the nets. Hang Up activities then promoted use of the LLINs and, where necessary, assisted with the hanging of nets.
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, particularly in Africa, supported by the International Federation, have worked in partnerships in their countries to pioneer the approach of integrating distribution of LLINs with mass measles vaccination campaigns, or with mother-child health campaigns.
In 2008, the global health community called for a change from targeting malaria prevention to the most vulnerable populations (children under the age of five and pregnant women) to one of targeting the entire population at risk from the disease. National Societies continue to play an important role in piloting new methods for LLIN distribution and in supporting ministries of health with Hang Up and Keep Up activities.
World Health Organization – Global Malaria Programme (GMP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Malaria Home Page
Roll Back Malaria
Office of the UN Secretary General Special Envoy on Malaria
President’s Malaria Initiative
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
UNICEF – Health / Malaria
Malaria Atlas Project (MAP)
Global Malaria Action Plan for a Malaria-Free World