World Malaria Report 2021

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World Malaria Report 2021

  • Each year, WHO’s World malaria report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of trends in malaria control and elimination across the globe.
  • It tracks investments in malaria programmes and research as well as progress across all intervention areas: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, elimination and surveillance.
  • Global efforts to tackle malaria suffered due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in 2020, according to the World Malaria Report 2021 released.

About the Report:

  • Global efforts to tackle malaria suffered due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in 2020, according to the World Malaria Report 2021 released.
  • If expeditious action is not taken, the world is in the danger of seeing an immediate resurgence of the disease, particularly in Africa
  • Crucial milestones of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 have been missed in 2020. * The 2030 targets will not be met without immediate attention.
  • India accounted for 83 per cent of cases in the WHO South-East Asia Region. Sri Lanka was certified malaria-free in 2016 and remains malaria-free.

Some alarming numbers

  • There were an estimated 627,000 malaria deaths in 2020, an increase of 12 per cent over 2019.
  • Some 47,000 (68 per cent) of the additional 69,000 deaths were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • An estimated 241 million malaria cases were reported in 2020 in 85 malaria-endemic countries, increasing from 227 million in 2019.


  • The WHO classified China and El Salvador to be ‘malaria-free’ in 2020. These countries reported zero cases in three consecutive years to get their certification. Together with them, 23 countries in the world have this status.
  • In the world’s decades-long fight against malaria, WHO has approved the first vaccine against the disease in October this year, after 30 years of study and tests.
  • ‘Mosquirix’ is the first vaccine against any parasite, and saves one life for every 200 children vaccinated. Many children also suffer from repeated episodes of malaria in a single year, and Mosquirix promises to reduce such recurrence by 40%.

Emerging challenges

  • Rapid tests to diagnose malaria will be rendered useless if two genes are deleted from the genome from the mutating malaria parasite – and there aren’t many feasible alternatives to these tests.
  • The WHO has already asked countries reporting false negative tests to conduct representative baseline surveys first, to understand the extent of the problem.
  • The emergence of resistance to artemisinin and partner drugs is a significant risk for the global effort to reduce the malaria burden.
  • In India, a combination of artesunate plus sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine is usually prescribed to treat malaria – but in Chhattisgarh – one of the country’s high-malaria-burden states – studies have shown resistance to the latter compound. Insecticide resistance is a similar cause for worry.