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Data InsightsThe global malaria death rate increased for the first time in 20 years due to COVID-19
July 08, 2024Fiona Spooner

The global malaria death rate increased for the first time in 20 years due to COVID-19

"Line graph showing the estimated deaths from malaria per 100,000 people from 1980 to 2021. The graph starts at around 12 deaths per 100,000 people in 1980, rises to a peak of about 15 deaths per 100,000 people around 2004, then gradually declines to about 9 deaths per 100,000 people by 2019. After 2019, the rate rises again to approximately 10 deaths per 100,000 people by 2021. Data source: IHME, Global Burden of Disease (2024)."

The death rate from malaria has gradually decreased since 2004, but disruption to healthcare programs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic caused a sudden increase in death rates in 2020 and 2021.

According to the latest Global Burden of Disease Study — published earlier this year by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) — the age-standardized death rate from malaria was 14.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 and had fallen by almost 40% in 2019, to 9.3 deaths per 100,000.

However, in 2020, it increased by around 12% to 10.3 deaths per 100,000, equivalent to around 80,000 additional deaths. Estimates from the World Health Organization also show a similar increase.

This increase is largely attributed to disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The increase was most noticeable in Africa, where IHME estimates that around 95% of malaria deaths occur.

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