No one should die from a mosquito bite. Yet almost half the world’s population is still at risk of contracting one of humanity’s oldest – and deadliest – diseases. While the United States eradicated malaria domestically by 1951, malaria still robs people in 87 countries and territories around the world of their health and their futures. In 2021, malaria infected 247 million people – and killed 619,000. Almost 80 percent of people who died were children under five years old.
The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) proves what can be achieved when the United States and other countries join together to take on the world’s toughest challenges. Led by USAID and implemented with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the past year alone, PMI provided tools for malaria prevention or treatment to people in 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia – where the vast majority of malaria infections occur. This year, through PMI, we delivered nets that protected 100 million people when they sleep at night and sprayed the homes of almost 20 million people to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes. We provided 7 million pregnant women with treatments to keep them and their unborn babies safe, and we supplied 12 million children with lifesaving medicine to prevent malaria infections during high-risk malaria seasons.
All told, since PMI’s launch in 2005, the initiative has contributed to saving 11.7 million lives. And it has worked to create healthier, safer, more prosperous communities by helping to prevent more than 2 billion infections. The initiative’s impact even extends beyond malaria: because keeping communities safe from malaria requires improving the reach and quality of primary care, our PMI investments also strengthen health systems as a whole. As part of PMI, we invest in primary care workers who go on to promote the health of their communities in a myriad of ways, including preventing and treating malaria.
Thanks to the generosity of the American people and Congress, the initiative intends to expand to three additional countries – Burundi, The Gambia, and Togo – with Fiscal Year 2023 funding. Mosquitoes and parasites do not respect borders, and partnering with these additional countries would bring the initiative’s lifesaving tools and medicines to new populations while boosting the protection of people in existing partner countries.
These investments are particularly essential as we confront complex and interconnected challenges that complicate efforts to eliminate malaria worldwide. Decades of progress could be undone by drug and insecticide resistance; growing populations in countries at risk of malaria; shifting patterns in a changing climate; and an invasive mosquito species now spreading from Asia to Africa – which, if allowed to continue its spread across the continent, could set back years of progress in the fight against malaria.
As U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, David Walton, aptly stated at the Forecasting Healthy Futures Global Summit last month, “the actions we take, or don’t take, now, will impact millions of people across the globe… it is not only our responsibility, but a moral imperative for us to work together to address these emerging threats.” In the face of evolving challenges, USAID remains committed to making the vision of a malaria-free future a reality. Working hand in hand with our global and country partners, we can save lives and end this deadly disease once and for all.
For more on PMI and the Initiative’s 17th Annual Report, please visit PMI.gov.