The GiveWell Blog

Malaria: Whom it affects and how

Most numbers below from this table (2000 data).

  • Malaria kills about 1.1 million people per year in developing countries.
  • ~65% are 4 years old or younger. (This particular figure appears to contradict the data from the Global Burden of Disease report pg 126-7, which implies a proportion closer to 90%).
  • The burden of malaria goes far beyond mortality, as the vast majority of number of cases are not fatal. Cases per year are estimated at ~200 million, lasting an average of ~4 days each.
  • Malaria both exacerbates and is exacerbated by malnutrition (see pgs 415-417 of the Disease Control Priorities report).
  • Malaria can, but usually does not, lead to permanent non-fatal debilitation including partial paralysis, quadriparesis, hearing and visual impairment, behavioral difficulties, language deficits, and epilepsy. Estimates for the numbers of these conditions caused by malaria total 13,000-15,000 cases worldwide per year.

Broadly, I would say that fighting malaria will reduce infant mortality and lower the overall burden on the local economy, health care system, and day-to-day quality of life, though it will not have much direct effect on adult mortality/morbidity. It’s therefore most relevant to goals 1-4 of this list.