Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada


A Community-based Approach to Tackling Malaria

Malaria is a leading cause of death among children in developing countries, most often affecting children under the age of five. Malaria infects people who have been bitten by an infected mosquito carrying the malaria parasite. The disease can quickly become life-threatening, often within 24 to 48 hours.

In 2010, the World Health Organisation reported approximately 210 million malaria cases worldwide, with 660,000 of these cases resulting in death. A staggering 90 percent of these deaths occurred in Africa. Most malaria cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prevention and Treatment

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease.

A initiative supported by Canada to improve maternal, newborn and child health includes the delivery of insecticide-treated bed nets used to prevent malaria.

Canada focuses its efforts on prevention, diagnosis and effective treatment of this disease, particularly for those living in remote areas. Canada and its international development partners work in local communities to ensure:

  • distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets;
  • delivery of effective anti-malarial drug treatments; and
  • training of local healthcare workers to diagnose malaria and administer treatments.

The use of insecticide-treated bed nets has reduced child deaths by nearly 20 percent and malaria-related infections by 50 percent. Before the mass distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets funded by international donors, including Canada, less than 5 percent of Sub-Saharan African homes had a bed net. Today, 53 percent have a least one.

Also as part of Canada's support, the most effective anti-malaria treatment (artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACTs) and rapid diagnostic tests are made available to patients in their own communities, where the need is most urgent.

Canada also supports the training of healthcare workers so that they can identify and treat not only malaria, but also pneumonia and diarrhea, which are among the main causes of death of children under the age of five.

Did You Know?

  • Children under the age of five are most at risk, accounting for 86 percent of malaria deaths.
  • Today, 53 percent of homes in Sub-Saharan Africa have at least one insecticide-treated bed net.
  • Six countries account for 47 percent of the total cases of malaria: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Côte d'Ivoire.

Canada's Role

Key partners and international development initiatives supported by Canada include the following:

  • The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an international financing institution that funds programs to prevent and treat these three diseases in 151 countries. Since 2002, with support from Canada and other international donors, Global Fund programs have:
    • distributed 310 million insecticide-treated bed nets;
    • delivered 260 million anti-malarial drug treatments; and
    • saved approximately 8.7 million lives from malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
  • The Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria is an innovative financing mechanism, hosted by the Global Fund, that aims to expand access to ACTs. Between 2010 and 2012, with support from Canada and other international donors, this initiative has delivered more than 280 million high-quality malaria treatments to Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
  • The Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives is an international partnership that Canada supports through the Integrated Health Systems Strengthening Project, implemented by UNICEF. Working in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique and Niger, healthcare workers are trained to diagnose and treat childhood diseases, including malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. From 2007 to 2012, the Catalytic Initiative:
    • trained more than 53,000 front-line healthcare workers, including more than 30,000 who have been trained to diagnose and treat malaria at the community level;
    • distributed more than 3.1 million malaria treatments to children under five suffering from malaria; and
    • delivered more than 4.7 million bed nets to families.

These initiatives are central to addressing one of Canada's priority themes for international development: securing the future of children and youth. They are also a key element of Canada's efforts to improve maternal, newborn and child health.

Consult the International Development Project Browser to find out more about these initiatives and other malaria prevention projects.