The annual number of deaths from malaria worldwide has been difficult to track, and estimates have varied widely in recent decades. But the need for clarity on this global health issue remains great, and more resources are being dedicated to combating the disease. Indeed, U.S. aid devoted to malaria increased from $149 million in 2000 to $1.2 billion in 2008.
A 2012 meta-study from the University of Washington and the University of Queensland published in The Lancet, “Global Malaria Mortality Between 1980 and 2010: A Systematic Analysis,” utilized research data from 1980 to 2010 to estimate the true levels of malaria mortality and the trends over time. The researchers examined studies in a variety of databases and used statistical techniques to account for the fact that malaria deaths are not always properly classified. The study ultimately calls into question prevailing estimates published in the World Health Organization’s annual reports on malaria.
Findings of the meta-study include:
The authors conclude that there were “about twice as many deaths than are estimated in the World Malaria Report 2011, with substantially more malaria deaths in adults in Africa and in both adults and children outside of Africa than previously recognized. Estimates of trends over time show that malaria deaths have increased by three times through the 1980s and 1990s, with subsequent declines driven by a rapid scaling-up of control efforts with crucial support from international donors.”