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Trop Med Parasitol. 1991 Sep;42(3):204-13.

Malaria and health in Africa: the present situation and epidemiological trends.

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Department of Population Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115.


The World Health Organization does not give any data on the malaria situation in Africa in its regular reports because of the "insufficiency and irregularity of reporting". Estimates on the total number of cases and the number of deaths vary considerably. They range from 35 million to 189 million per year depending on whose figures one uses. An intensive search of the literature using computer-based systems identified more than 1000 titles on the epidemiology of malaria. Out of them and from other sources finally 426 articles were used to describe the current malaria situation and observable trends in Africa. Major findings were that malaria is responsible for about 40% of fever cases, mortality is about 5 per 1000 per year, case fatality ranges from 2% to 24%. Admissions for malaria account for 20% to 50% of all admissions in African health services although only 8% to 25% of persons with malaria visit health services. Self-treatment is more common in urban areas (more than 60%) but an increasing number of people use some form of self protection in rural areas (2% to 25%). The resistance of malaria parasites to chloroquine and other drugs is widespread. Chloroquine resistance has reached a prevalence of about 30% at the RII level in most countries. Malaria incidence shows annual growth rates of 7.3% for Zambia, 10.4% for Togo, and 21.0% for Rwanda. The data for Burkina Faso show a downward trend of--14.7% during the years from 1973 to 1981. Since then malaria incidence is increasing at 11.0% per year. Hospital data reported from Zambia indicate that mortality is rising 5.2% per annum in children and 9.7% per annum in adults. Reasons for the increase of malaria and its role for development are discussed.

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