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A massive 350 - 500 million people contract malaria every year. Fortunately, there are highly cost-effective means of tackling the disease, especially preventative measures such as bednets that can be supplied cheaply. We particularly recommend the Against Malaria Foundation.
Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.
Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines.1
Each year, 350-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, killing more than one million people each year.
Key interventions to control malaria include: prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies; use of insecticidal nets by people at risk; and indoor residual spraying with insecticide to control the vector mosquitoes.
Charities which focus on malaria often advertise their cost effectiveness in term of how much it costs to purchase and distribute one insecticide treated bednet.
|Organization||Advertized cost per bed net|
|Against Malaria Foundation||$4 (net)|
$6 (net + delivery + evaluation)
|Malaria No More||$5 (net) |
$10 (net + delivery + evaluation)
|Nothing But Nets||$10 (net + delivery)|
The cost effectiveness for different malaria interventions is roughly uniform, hovering around the 100 Disability Adjusted Life Years/ $1,000 mark. Preventing 30 DALYs is a health gain that is on a par with saving a life. Thus, on the figures above, it would cost $300 to produce a health gain at this level, while $1,000 would be on a par with saving 3 people's lives.
In the graph above, 'case management' refers to treatment based on the relatively new drug, artemisinin, which is more cost-effective than other drug treatments.
Are there side-effects?
Some of the positive side-effects of interventions for malaria include:
- Malaria tends to affect the some of the poorest people in the world. As it provides economic benefits, treating them helps to decrease economic inequality.
One possible negative side-effect is:
- Malaria develops resistance to drug treatment. However, this resistance is taken into account in the above cost-effectiveness estimates.
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