Malaria is endemic in 104 countries and affects half the world’s population. Between 300 and 500 million people become acutely ill and more than 660,000 deaths are recorded each year. Ninety per cent of deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in children under five, although pregnant women and their unborn offspring are also particularly at risk from malaria which is a major cause of infant death, low birth weight and maternal anaemia.
Malaria is caused by a parasite of the Plasmodium species and transmitted from person to person through the bite of a female Anopheline mosquito.There are five plasmodium species that cause human disease, the most deadly being caused by Plasmodium falciparum , which is most common in sub-Saharan Africa .The Anopholine mosquito vectors feed from dusk to dawn, peak biting being from 10 pm – 2am. The insect bites an infected person, taking in the parasite which then multiplies and develops into the infective stage in 9-14 days (depending on the ambient temperature).
Although the disease was eradicated in developed countries many years ago, it continues to pose one of the biggest threats to health in the developing world[ . Nicknamed 'the disease that keeps poor people poor', It has also been identified as one of the top four causes of poverty, causing Africa more than $ 12 million annually in lost productivity.
Over 1.1 million lives have been saved over the last decade and nearly 500 children’s lives are currently saved every day through preventative measures such as insecticide treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying and education on malaria. However, the mosquito vectors are constantly adapting – some develop resistance to the insecticides used for both the bed nets and indoor residual spraying, and others are altering their behaviour.