10 Things You Need to Know About Malaria in 2023

Whether you’re a global traveler, a humanitarian, or a resident of a tropical country, there are many reasons to care about malaria. If you thought this pesky, mosquito-borne disease was an ailment of the past, think again. The disease still impacts half the world’s population, particularly in Africa, as well as parts of Latin America and Asia. The worst part? Kids under five and pregnant women face the greatest risk. 

We’ve been partnering with the United Nations Foundation’s United to Beat Malaria campaign (formerly Nothing But Nets) since 2016. Malaria is both a cause and effect of poverty, which is the focus of our Foundation. People living in poverty have a harder time obtaining and affording prevention measures (like bed nets) and treatment. When malaria does strike, it can cause families to miss work and face crippling healthcare costs. Households in Africa, for example, lose up to 25% of their income due to malaria. 


ending malaria


“Malaria and poverty are bedfellows … If you become poor, you get malaria, because you are not able to afford treatment. In terms of man hours lost, we lose almost 60 million hours a year—it becomes a vicious cycle.”
—Dr. Myers Lugemwa, Uganda’s National Malaria Control Program

This past March, Cotopaxi sent six employees to attend United to Beat Malaria (Beat Malaria)’s annual summit in D.C. Straight from Capitol Hill, we’re sharing some surprising history, new stats, and a few critical updates from the summit on the fight against malaria. 


mosquito costume Snakes and sharks have nothing on this insect. If you really want to be scary, dress up as a mosquito. 


1. The world’s deadliest animal? 

If you’ve got a fear of sharks, consider yourself an arachnophobic, or worry about mountain lions on the trail, you’ve been anxious about the wrong animal. The mosquito holds the title of world’s deadliest, spreading malaria as well as other lethal infections. 


2. Malaria is an ancient disease that once threatened the United States. 

This age-old ailment has likely been around for over 10,000 years. It was originally believed to be spread by bad air—hence the name mal-aria (“bad air” in Italian). Malaria was a threat in the U.S. until 1951, five years after the Center for Disease Control & Prevention was established, largely to tackle malaria. While the disease no longer threatens the U.S., it’s still the number one disease threat to U.S. troops abroad, and it impacts travelers to malaria-endemic countries.  


“It is different when you see your own child suffering from malaria. Vomiting, crying to you and you cannot do anything. You have to assure them it will be okay … that they won’t die.”
—Manasseh Wandera, Executive Director, Society for Family Health Rwanda, malaria survivor and father of two malaria survivors 


Manasseh Wandera speaking at the Beat Malaria Summit 


3. Malaria kills a little kid nearly every minute. 

In Africa, far more people died from malaria in 2021 than from COVID-19, according to Joy Phumaphi, the Executive Secretary of African Leaders Malaria Alliance. Worldwide, more than 600,000 people died from malaria in 2021, and 76% of those deaths were kids under the age of five years old in Sub-Saharan Africa. 



“This is a human disgrace.”
—Dr. Marcos Antonio Espinal, Assistant Director of the WHO’s Pan American Health Association


Members of the Cotopaxi team and others lobbying Members of Congress to expand funding for malaria during the Beat Malaria Summit


4. Climate change is helping mosquitoes thrive. 

Longer rainy seasons in Senegal. Chronic flooding in Pakistan. Warmer temperatures and more storms everywhere. All of these changes to our climate are leading to more areas where mosquitoes thrive and a spike in mosquito populations, which means more malaria transmission


5. There’s a new mosquito out there. 

Its name is Anopheles stephensi and it comes from Southeast Asia, but has found its way into West Africa and the Horn of Africa. Usually, malaria is more of a rural problem, but as Dr. David Walton, the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator for the President’s Malaria Initiative explains, “this mosquito loves cities.” Scientists are busy working to understand how to curtail the spread of this deadly new species. 


“We can be the generation that beats malaria once and for all.”
—Himaja Nagireddy, 11th Youth Observer to the United Nations 

 UN Youth Observer Himaja Nagireddy at the Beat Malaria Summit


6. Emerging drug and insecticide resistance threatens progress against malaria.  

Mosquitoes are becoming resistant to commonly-used insecticides; and the malaria parasite is becoming resistant to widely-used malaria treatments. This means more research, development, and rapid innovation are critical to staying ahead of the insect and parasite’s evolution. 


7. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to solving malaria.

Insecticides, global monitoring, cross-border collaboration, preventative monoclonal antibodies (still in development), spatial repellents, and vaccines are a few of the key tools needed to stay ahead of the disease. 


“We need to bring solutions closer to the people.”
—Martin Wamoni, Head of Supply Chain Business Integration, SC Johnson in Kenya


Martin Wamoni of SC Johnson Kenya displays new spatial repellent tech


8. Nets are a tried-and-true intervention. 

Before our nonprofit partner became “United to Beat Malaria,” they were called Nothing But Nets. And while they’ve expanded their work beyond nets, this simple solution remains critically important for preventing lethal bites when mosquitoes are most active. 

This year, Cotopaxi is supporting United to Beat Malaria’s initiative to send 50,000 nets made by the Swiss company Vestergaard to Ecuador. A major player in the malaria fight, Vestergaard was among the first to develop a long-lasting, treated bet net, and it’s about to ship its one-billionth net.


“If you take your foot off the pedal on malaria, you’re going to see resurgence.”
—Chris Collins, President & CEO of Friends of the Global Fight 


9. Community health workers are key. 

Malaria risk is higher in rural areas, which means a longer commute to health care. If a child is sick, this often means the mother needs to take leave from work and keep other children out of school in order to travel for care. Transportation is often a challenge, too. That’s why community health workers—who are often women—are one of the best ways to enable prompt diagnosis and treatment.


Cotopaxi Community Engagement Manager Emily Meshumar speaking at the Beat Malaria Summit


10. Eradicating malaria CAN be done. 

Belize, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, the U.S., Cuba, El Salvador—what do these countries have in common? They’ve all suffered from malaria in the past, but have since become certified malaria-free. These are just a few of many nations that have won the battle against malaria. This is not an impossible fight. It just takes funding and steady determination to hold strong against the mosquito. 

“Think of how many people you can save. Millions and millions of people. If only you raise your voice, if only you do something.”
—Sifa Ndusha, refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, two-time malaria survivor

Malaria survivor Sifa Ndusha speaking at the Beat Malaria Summit  


So, what can you do to help eradicate malaria from the world? 

  • Become a Beat Malaria Champion! Take action in the fight to beat malaria by rallying your communities and Members of Congress to join the fight as well. Text CHAMPION to 30644 to become a Champion. 
  • Tell your elected officials to fund the global fight against malaria. Call, email, DM, make an appointment to meet with them in person—whatever works for you. Here’s an easy toolkit from United to Beat Malaria that frames up what to say to your representatives. 
  • Spread the word! Share this story (especially on April 25 - World Malaria Day) with friends and family or on social to increase awareness about how malaria impacts children and the world. 
  • Donate: Make a donation to United to Beat Malaria here.