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Friday, June 22, 2012

U.S. Response to the Global Threat of Malaria: Basic Facts

Alexandra E. Kendall
Analyst in Global Health

In 2010, malaria infected an estimated 216 million people and killed 655,000 people, most of whom were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the current burden of disease, malaria is preventable and treatable. Congress has increasingly recognized malaria as an important foreign policy issue, and the United States has become a major player in the global response to the disease. In its second session, the 112th Congress will likely debate the appropriate funding levels and optimum strategy for addressing the continued challenge of global malaria.

Congress has enacted several key pieces of legislation related to global malaria control. These include the Assistance for International Malaria Control Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-570); the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-25); and the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-293). These acts have authorized funds to be used in the fight against malaria and have shaped the ways in which U.S. malaria programs are coordinated and managed, including through the creation of the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In 2005, in response to growing international calls for global malaria control and to the success of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), President George W. Bush launched the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which aims to halve the burden of malaria morbidity and mortality in 70% of at-risk populations in sub-Saharan Africa by 2014. PMI brought significant new attention and funding to U.S. malaria programs and made the United States one of the largest donors for malaria efforts. While U.S. funding for global malaria programs has increased each fiscal year since FY2004, support for malaria interventions increased most precipitously beginning in FY2007 as PMI has expanded into new countries. President Obama has continued to support PMI through the Global Health Initiative (GHI).

There is evidence that the growing international response to malaria has had some success in controlling the epidemic. Since 2000, global malaria incidence has decreased by 17% and malaria mortality by 26%. Since 2000, 43 countries have reported a reduction in reported malaria cases of more than 50%, including eight African countries that have experienced 50% reduction in either confirmed malaria cases or malaria admissions and deaths. The decreases in each of these African countries are associated with intense malaria control activities. Despite these successes, several key issues pose challenges to an effective scale-up of the response to malaria. First, increasing reports of drug-resistant malaria in Southeast Asia and insecticide-resistant mosquitoes, largely in Africa, threaten the success of malaria control programs. Second, weak health systems, including shortages in health care personnel and inadequate supply chain networks, have limited the delivery of essential commodities for malaria control. There is also debate within the global health community over whether malaria efforts should increasingly target areas where malaria elimination is possible or whether efforts should remain concentrated on malaria control.

This report outlines basic facts related to global malaria, including characteristics of the epidemic and U.S. legislation, programs, funding, and partnerships related to the global response to malaria.

Date of Report: June 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R41644
Price: $29.95

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