Malaria is a preventable and curable – yet life-threatening – disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
The World Health Organization estimates that 3.4 billion people across the world are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being most vulnerable. WHO also estimates that in 2012 there were 207 million cases of malaria, which led to 627,000 deaths globally.
How malaria works:
- Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites, transmitted to people by anopheles mosquitoes.
- Of the four parasites that cause malaria in humans, two (Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum) are the most common, and the latter is the most deadly.
- After a period of incubation, malaria presents itself with initial flu-like symptoms that include fever, headache, chills and vomiting. It is often described as an acute febrile (fever-like) illness.
- If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, which may lead to death or serious brain damage, especially in children and pregnant women.
We focus on a variety of interventions to improve the availability, affordability and use of effective malaria treatment. Our interventions against malaria include the delivery of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria, rapid diagnostic tests to diagnose malaria, and artemisinin-based combination therapy to effectively treat malaria.
All of our interventions are accompanied by strategic behavior change communications to increase the appropriate use of these products. We also lead research programs to inform global malaria policy and national programming decisions around the world.
Our network members play a variety of roles. These include managing national programs to support the public sector, and helping grow commercial markets for product delivery to build a more sustainable, self-funded delivery mechanism to reduce the public-sector burden.
Our in-country offices and experts work with national malaria control programs to assess the total need or market for malaria prevention and treatment. Once the market is defined, we work with partners to facilitate the delivery of approved evidence-based interventions using a tailored combination of public- and private-sector delivery channels. This holistic approach, with differing levels of subsidy for groups with different abilities to pay (free for the poorest, varying levels of subsidy for those who can afford to pay), maximizes health impact in a sustainable way at the best possible value.
We also contribute to global efforts to contain the spread of artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia. Malaria parasites resistant to artemisinin has emerged in the Greater Mekong sub-region, with a focus in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and – more recently – Myanmar. The spread of these resistant parasites would threaten recent successes in malaria control and jeopardize the gains made to date across the malaria endemic world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. We are working with national malaria control programs and within national and global strategic frameworks to prevent and treat malaria in the region.
To date, we have delivered more than 215 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets and more than 65 million artemisinin-based combination therapies for malaria treatment. In 2011 alone, we delivered 43 million nets, representing roughly half of all nets delivered in Africa that year.
To date, we have delivered more than 215 million insecticide-treated nets in 38 countries. We also stimulate markets to increase private sector delivery of this key malaria prevention commodity at no cost to the public sector.
- Long-Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets: We are the largest distributor of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in the world, and we use a variety of strategies in tandem with distribution to reach and protect vulnerable populations.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Alongside rapid diagnostic test kit distribution programs, we deliver and promote artemisinin-based combination therapy, all in conjunction with tailored health communication campaigns, to ensure that people suffering from malaria are properly diagnosed and started on treatment within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
- Integrated Case Management: Our integrated case management programs reduce death and severe disease through prompt and effective diagnosis and treatment where and when people need it.
- Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs): We promote the use of quality assured RDTs to confirm suspected cases of malaria before supplying appropriate malaria treatment, thereby decreasing wastage of artemisinin-based combination therapy and preventing the development of dangerous drug resistance.
- Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy: We are working to ensure that children with confirmed cases of malaria receive quality-assured and effective antimalarial treatment.
- Social Marketing Evidence Base
In response to questions about the effectiveness of social marketing in global health, PSI systematically reviewed all literature published between 1995 and 2013 on social marketing for HIV, reproductive health, malaria, child survival, and tuberculosis in developing countries. After reviewing more than 6500 studies, we found 109 studies telling us about what social marketing programs can achieve.
- Ngao Mosquito Net Ad – Tanzania
This is an advertisement for Ngao Mosquito Nets in Tanzania.
- Social Franchising Evidence
As an evidence-based model, social franchising puts high quality healthcare within the reach of people in need around the world. This report showcases results from four studies led by researchers from PSI, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Johns Hopkins University, which demonstrate how social franchising networks, like PSI/Myanmar's Sun Quality Network, improve the quality of health service delivery and health outcomes at-scale, cost effectively and equitably.
- Follow the Need: Recipe for Scaling Up Access to Quality Pneumonia, Diarrhea and Malaria Case Management in South Sudan
Looking at certain 'ingredients,' this case study outlines how PSI and partners are working to scale up access to, quality of, and demand for improved health services and products in South Sudan using integrated community case management (iCCM). It also delineates keys to success and lessons learned from the study.
- UNITAID Private Sector RDT Project
This one pager outlines how the UNITAID Private Sector RDT Project aims to stimulate the creation of a private sector market for malaria, the project's expected impact and outcomes, and the partners involved.
- Fever Case Management: Improving Access to and Informed Demand for Quality Fever Case Management Services with Malaria RDTs
25 participants from eight countries met for a 3-day PSI workshop to share and learn from each other best practice in programming and management of febrile cases in the private sector with RDTs.
- Understanding Private Sector Antimalarial Distribution Chains: A Cross-Sectional Mixed Methods Study in Six Malaria-Endemic Countries
This article presents evidence on the composition, characteristics and operation of private for-profit distribution chains in six malaria-endemic countries (Benin, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia).
- Healthy Lives: New Hope for Malaria Treatment in Uganda
Biryeri Rehema, a mother of eight living in eastern Uganda, recently faced an agonizing decision no parent should have to face — which of her children should get malaria treatment. Read her story.
- Healthy Lives: Winning the Battle Against Malaria in Rwanda
This brief outlines the interventions PSI has undertaken to fight the battle against malaria in Rwanda.
- “Souls of the Ancestor that Knock Us Out” and Other Tales: A Qualitative Study to Identify Demand-Side Factors Influencing Malaria Case Management in Cambodia
This qualitative study aims to understand the demand-side factors influencing treatment-seeking behavior, including the types of home treatments, perceptions of cocktail medicines and reasons for diagnostic testing.