Rolling back malaria in Africa - challenges and opportunities to winning the elimination battle

S Afr Med J. 2019 Dec 5;109(11b):53-56. doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i11b.14250.


A high-level review was conducted of the literature pertaining to the challenges and opportunities for eliminating malaria on the African continent. Although malaria mortality and morbidity are on the decline, the disease remains one of public health importance. Africa has invariably borne the brunt of the disease, recording the highest number of cases and deaths. However, with greater emphasis being placed on the disease by the international community, partnerships have developed to boost malaria elimination efforts on the continent. One such initiative is the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership which aims to facilitate malaria elimination through increasing resources and awareness. Many cross-border initiatives have been established which treat malaria as a regional problem rather than a country-specific one. Accelerated malaria control efforts have led to a 37% decrease in cases and 60% reduction in deaths. Multi-country efforts have resulted in marked reductions of transmission in the region. Although there have been noteworthy gains in curtailing the disease, new challenges have arisen. The main among these are residual malaria and outdoor biting. One of the main drivers of residual malaria is insecticide resistance. Adding to the burden of residual transmission is the discovery of new vectors that may exist at low densities. To exacerbate these issues is the challenge of malaria imported from high- to low-transmission areas. Nevertheless, compared with the historical picture, we are winning the battle against malaria. Countries in Africa are being certified malaria-free. Partnerships have been developed to take forward the RBM Global Malaria Action Plan. Elimination agendas can only be successful if funding remains sustainable, with greater reliance on domestic funding.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology
  • Anopheles / physiology
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Eradication*
  • Drug Resistance*
  • Humans
  • Insecticide Resistance*
  • Insecticide-Treated Bednets
  • International Cooperation
  • Malaria / drug therapy
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / prevention & control*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology


  • Antimalarials