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World Malaria Day 2021

21 Apr 2021

World Malaria Day occurs each year on 25th April to highlight the need for continued commitment for malaria prevention and control. Every year, there are more than 200 million new cases of malaria, which is a preventable and treatable disease.

Malaria burden

Malaria is a parasite infection that is transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes. It is widespread in many tropical and subtropical countries. According to the latest World Malaria Report, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and 409,000 malaria-related deaths in 87 countries in 2019. 94% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide occurred in the World Health Organization (WHO) African region, with approximately half of all malaria deaths occurring in the following 6 countries:

  • Nigeria (23%)
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%)
  • United Republic of Tanzania (5%)
  • Burkina Faso (4%)
  • Mozambique (4%)
  • Niger (4%)

Children under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria, and in 2019 in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately two thirds of global deaths from malaria.

Target: zero malaria

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of malaria-endemic countries making impressive progress in their journey to becoming malaria-free, or reporting zero indigenous malaria cases (a strong indicator that malaria elimination is within reach) continues to increase.

Between 2000 and 2019:

  • the number of countries reporting less than 100 indigenous cases increased from 6 to 27
  • 21 countries reported at least 3 consecutive years of zero indigenous malaria cases
  • 10 of these countries were certified malaria-free by WHO

In the 6 Greater Mekong countries; Cambodia, China (Yunnan Province), Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, significant progress has been made towards their shared goal of malaria elimination by 2030:

  • the reported number of malaria cases fell by 97% between 2000 and 2020
  • malaria deaths were reduced by more than 99% in the same period

In 2021, El Salvador became the first Central American country to be certified as malaria-free by WHO.

This year, the WHO and partners will mark World Malaria Day by celebrating the achievements of those countries which are approaching or achieving malaria elimination.

  • For further information on the World Malaria Day 2021 campaign, visit the WHO website

Further information about malaria and its prevention can be found on in our malaria pages.