Malaria hits Africa the hardest. More than 80 percent of all malaria cases around the world each year occur in Africa, and the continent suffers more than 90 percent of the fatalities caused by the disease.
Children are the most vulnerable. Of the deaths caused by malaria, 86 percent are among children under five.
Other vulnerable groups include pregnant women, people living with HIV/AIDs and victims of disasters.
Also, climate change could increase the number of people at risk of malaria in Africa by 170 million by 2030. (Foresight. Infectious Diseases: preparing for the future, 2006).
This high burden of disease has a direct economic impact. Malaria causes significant economic losses, and can decrease gross domestic product by as much as 1.3 percent in countries with high levels of transmission. Over the long term, these aggregated annual losses have resulted in substantial differences in GDP between countries with and without malaria, particularly in Africa (WHO, Malaria Fact Sheet number 94. December 2011).
During the last decade, there has been a growing political commitment at both regional and international levels to scale up malaria control with elimination in Africa as the goal. The acceleration of malaria prevention strategies such as use of insecticide-treated bed nets have shown positive results leading to a reduction of malaria incidence and mortality among children in Africa.
To sustain the gains, accelerate progress in meeting the malaria-related millennium development goals, and improve child and maternal health, more investment is needed. Mitigating drug and insecticide resistance and applying new proven tools will also be critical. If not, we risk reversing today's gains and loosing countless more lives to this preventable, treatable disease.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) supports malaria control in its regional member countries through targeted health sector projects, financing commodities and training, and general health systems support.
Also, mitigation measures are integrated in infrastructure project design to ensure that the risk of creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes is reduced.
The AfDB has also provided support to the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases which supports the development of new tools to fight malaria and other tropical diseases, and to strengthen the research capacity of affected countries.
For instance the AfDB provided strategic support for the development of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI). The AfDB is also supporting the harmonization of policies, protocols and treatment regimens in the SADC region through a grant of approximately USD 30 million for the control of communicable diseases, including malaria.
The AfDB will continue to support its regional member countries in improving health and controlling malaria.
Its new Human Capital Development Strategy argues for an integrated approach to human development in order to foster economic growth and poverty reduction. Inclusive growth will not be reached without healthier populations.
The AfDB will therefore aid its regional member countries in finding innovative and sustainable financing mechanisms to address the current crisis in external financing in general, and in disease-specific programs in particular.