Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of malaria cases, according to the latest world malaria report by the World Health Organization. The continent is home to 95% of the world’s malaria cases and 96% of its malaria deaths.
Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Niger account for about half of all such fatalities. Nigeria alone had 31.3% of the world’s malaria deaths in 2021.
Malaria is transmitted through mosquitoes infected with plasmodium, a single-cell parasite. In humans, the parasite multiplies in liver cells and red blood cells.
The years 2020 and 2021, during the height of the covid-19 pandemic, saw an increase in malaria deaths compared to 2019. There were an estimated 625,000 globally in 2020 and 619,000 in 2021, up from 568,000 in 2019.
Although the death rate slowed between 2020 and 2021, the number of malaria cases keeps rising. Globally, there were 247 million active cases in 2021, versus 245 million in 2020. The year before the pandemic, there were 232 million malaria cases worldwide.
Where malaria rates are the worst
The two countries with the worst malaria rates are Benin, with around 383 new cases per 1,000 people in 2021, and Burkina Faso, with roughly 376. Liberia and Mali follow close behind at about 356 and 353 new cases per 1,000 people.
In Benin, 40% of consultations with a healthcare provider and 25% of all hospital admissions are due to malaria. In Burkina Faso, the disease accounts for 43% of consultations and more than 60% of hospitalizations.
Malaria causes 30% of deaths in Burkina Faso. In Liberia and Mali, it’s the leading cause of seeking medical attention and of death.