A project of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs.

The Business Case for Malaria Control

The severity and scope of malaria is recognized the world over, often in the unwelcome forms of sickness and death. Most often, it is the poor who suffer. According to the World Health Organization, half of the world’s population is at risk.

Malaria is transmitted to humans through the bite of a parasite-carrying mosquito, which causes flu-like symptoms and, in severe forms, death. Most vulnerable are children, pregnant women, and those in remote regions with little access to prevention and treatment tools. Of the estimated 655,000 malaria deaths that occur each year, 91 percent are in Africa. Of these, 86 percent are children under 5 years of age (WHO 2011).

These statistics carry huge economic and societal costs. In Africa alone, malaria has been estimated to cost USD 12 billion every year. This includes costs of health care, working days lost due to sickness, days lost in education, decreased productivity, and loss of investment and tourism (Greenwood et al. 2005). In countries with high transmission, this equates to an average of 1.3 percent of annual economic growth and up to 25 percent of household income (RBM 2010).

Malaria can be prevented and treated through simple tools like mosquito nets, effective medicines and safe indoor spraying. According to McKinsey & Co., rapid and large scale deployment of malaria interventions would increase economic output by as much as USD 30 billion in Africa and prevent 672 million malaria cases over a five-year period. RBM estimates that eliminating malaria 35 years ago would have added USD 100 billion to sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product, a sum nearly five times greater than all development aid provided to Africa in 2007.

The United Against Malaria partnership is building support for the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, which aim to eliminate malaria-related deaths by 2015. The partnership comprises football clubs, corporations, government groups, non-governmental organizations, and sports and entertainment celebrities—each with unique resources to contribute. Currently UAM partners across the globe are gaining momentum in their efforts to fight malaria in creative and collaborative ways. As they do so, they’re helping at-risk populations achieve better health, lower healthcare costs, greater productivity, and a higher standard of living.

Malaria Safe practices such as educating employees and customers, encouraging regular mosquito net use, and promoting rapid diagnosis and treatment will lead to a malaria-free future. By joining other major national and multinational companies in becoming malaria safe, private sector leaders can help eliminate this deadly and debilitating disease, paving the way toward better health and economic development.