Malaria situation and response

Malaria is a major public health challenge in Ethiopia, contributing 4% of all cases in Africa. The epidemiology of malaria in Ethiopia is well described in national documents - demonstrating the threat to approximately 68% (52 million) of the population at risk from both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Malaria varies considerably across different regions of the country, influenced in part by geography and climate, but also as a result of the recent scale up of control measures. This requires variable prevention and control approaches, but does provide the potential to actively create and extend malaria-free areas. These opportunities and challenges are addressed in the current national malaria programme goals and objectives.

As well as having public health impacts, malaria represents a significant impediment to socioeconomic development in the country as a result of loss of work force and time, both of sick people and family members providing care, depletion of income and school absenteeism. Malaria is the leading cause of outpatient department (OPD) visits, health facility admissions and inpatient deaths, accounting for approximately 12% of OPD visits and nearly 10% of all hospital admissions (2008-09).

Malaria transmission is unstable with seasonal, climate conditions and altitude as determinant factors. Seasonal transmission and frequent epidemics occur in highland fringe areas (1500-2500m). There is relatively low transmission duration in lowland areas, river basins and valleys (below 1500m). The major transmission period occurs from September-December, following the June-September rains. Minor transmission occurs in April-May. The incidence of malaria coincides with the major planting and harvesting season for farmers.

Starting from 1997, Ethiopia has applied WHO malaria policies and strategies. The country developed a five-year National Strategic Plan for Malaria Prevention and Control (2011-2015) in order to achieve the following goals:

  • By 2015, achieve malaria elimination within specific geographical areas with historically low malaria transmission.
  • By 2015, achieve near zero malaria deaths in the remaining malarious areas of the country.

The major objectives for the period of the plan include:

  • Community empowerment and mobilization
    1) 100% of people living in malarious areas recognize the importance of using a long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets (LLINs), have their house sprayed, and seek treatment within 24 hours of fever onset.
    2) 100% of health posts in malarious 'Kebeles' [smallest administrative unit] provide the full health extension package, including outreach services, social communication and mobilization and model family households.

  • Diagnosis and case management
    1) 100% of suspected malaria cases are diagnosed using rapid diagnostic tests and or microscopy within 24 hours of fever onset.
    2) 100% of positive malaria diagnosis are treated according to national guidelines.
    3) 100% of severe malaria cases are managed according to national guidelines.

  • Prevention
    1) 100% of households in malarious areas own one LLIN per sleeping space.
    2) At least 80% of people at risk of malaria use LLINs.
    3) 90% of households in indoor residual spraying (IRS)-targeted areas.

  • Active surveillance and epidemic control 1) To achieve a high quality, broad-based malaria infection detection, investigation and response 'surveillance system' to further reduce malaria transmission and improve the detection and timely response to malaria epidemics.

The countries main strategies are:

  • Early diagnosis and effective treatment using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and/or microscopy, and treating according to national guidelines.
  • Vector control, which includes the provision of free insecticide-treated nets or LLINs targeting all groups; providing indoor residual spraying (IRS) and implementing environmental management activities.
  • Epidemic prevention and control.

RBM partners' activities

Malaria endemic countries

Multilateral development partners


Research and academia


OECD donor countries

In the news

Towards near zero preventable deaths by 2015: UNITAID invests to increase access to severe malaria treatment

22 April 2014, 8:00 am

UNITAID is dedicating 34 million USD on reducing malaria case-fatality through its project rolling out over the coming weeks to treat the severest cases.

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Stretching the dollar for global health: Maximizing the impact of investments in malaria

30 January 2014, 6:40 am

In 2000, international funding for malaria was estimated to be less than US $100 million. Thanks to increased political leadership, donor commitment and coordination, we have seen that number increase significantly, to just under US $2 billion in 2013. And domestic financing for malaria has also increased, from 436 million USD in 2005 to US $522 million in 2012. The result has been nothing short of tremendous. According to the…

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Tackling school absenteeism from malaria in Ethiopia

2 December 2013, 11:20 pm

In Ethiopia, over two thirds of the population are at risk of malaria. Unlike other sub-Saharan African countries, in Ethiopia, the transmission of the disease can vary significantly from one year to the next. Whilst several years may pass with relatively low levels of malaria, the country is prone to frequent and often large-scale epidemics.

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Predictors of long-lasting, insecticide-treated, bed net ownership and utilization: evidence from community-based cross-sectional comparative study, Southwest Ethiopia

9 November 2013, 4:20 pm

Malaria is the notorious impediment of public health and economic development. Long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets/insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs/ITNs) are among major intervention strategies to avert the impact the killer disease. However, effectiveness of LLINs/ITNs depends on, inter alia, possessing sufficient number, proper utilization and timely replacement of nets. Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends surveys to evaluate possession and proper use of LLINs/ITNs by households.

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Invest to Save: Meeting of Ministers of Health and Finance on domestic financing for health

8 November 2013, 11:01 am

The African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the African Development Bank (AfDB) will convene a high-level political meeting on increased domestic funding for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, in Addis Ababa from November 11-12, 2013.

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Global Fight Against Killer Diseases At Crossroads -

6 November 2013, 11:20 pm

One of the greatest successes in development aid over the past decade has been the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Global Fund has saved millions of lives and helped countries around the world beat back three epidemic diseases. Now it is appealing to the world's governments and the private sector for another three years of funding, with governments set to decide on further financing in early…

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  • Malaria situation and response
  • Funding shortfalls
  • RBM partners' activities
  • In the news