Malaria

The UNHCO Malaria Programme includes malaria prevention, control, vaccines and health education. In addition to providing direct support, we also work for the development of new vaccines. Malaria kills nearly one million people each year—most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa. UNHCO believes that these deaths can be prevented with humanitarian projects, strong partnerships and special programmes.

Malaria is a serious, life-threatening disease caused by the plasmodium parasite. This parasite is transmitted to human beings through the female anopheles mosquito. The parasite travels to the liver, and there it multiplies. The new parasites then enter the bloodstream and destroy red blood cells.

Malaria Deaths World Wide
According to statistics, malaria killed nearly one million people in 2008. Most of the deaths were of children who live in sub-Saharan Africa. Other at-risk populations live in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and some parts of Europe.

Types of Malaria
The four different types of malaria are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale. Falciparum and vivax are the most common types of the disease, and falciparum has the highest mortality rate.

How It’s Transmitted
Like many types of mosquitoes, the female anopheles mosquito needs a blood meal to be able to lay her eggs and bites mostly at twilight or at night. While the mosquito drinks blood from the human, she transfers the parasite into that person’s bloodstream. Biting peaks after the rainy season as mosquitoes need standing water to lay their eggs.

Who’s At Risk
People who live in Africa are most at risk for malaria because the species of anopheles mosquito found there lives a long time, which gives the parasites they carry time to mature. This type of mosquito also prefers human blood to the blood of other animals. In some places, people who live to adulthood have been bitten many times and have developed an immunity to the disease, which is why most of the deaths are in children. In places where mosquitoes bite less frequently, people of all age groups are at risk of death, with pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems at the greatest risk.

Symptoms
Eight to 30 days after the mosquito bites, the victim will suffer from headache; fatique; nausea; hard, shaking chills with a fever that lasts from 12 to 24 hours; rapid breathing and sweating that causes a drop in body temperature. These episodes can recur every two to three days until the disease is treated.