The program also works with ministries of health in Haiti and the Dominican Republic on a special initiative to eliminate malaria and lymphatic filariasis from the countries' shared island, Hispaniola.
What is malaria?
Malaria is a potentially fatal mosquito-borne parasitic disease, widespread in tropical and subtropical regions.
When the female Anopheles mosquitoes bite humans and feed, they can pick up malaria parasites from an infected person. After a development cycle in the mosquito lasting from seven to 10 days, the mosquito becomes infectious and can transfer malaria parasites into the next human host.
Parasites transferred to humans go first to the person's liver, where they grow, divide, and then re-enter the bloodstream where they invade red blood cells causing periodic fevers, intense headaches, and body-shaking chills. Without treatment, the disease can lead to death.
How widespread is the problem?
Malaria currently kills an estimated 655,000 people each year, mostly children, with about 250 million cases of the disease reported worldwide.
Approximately 80 percent of all cases and 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa, where one child in 10 dies before the age of 5 from malaria.
More deaths from malaria occur in Nigeria (around 200,000) than in any other country.
The Carter Center's Malaria Control Program focuses on delivering, monitoring, and evaluating interventions at the grassroots level, including: bed net distribution, case detection and treatment, operational research, and behavior change communications, such as teaching people how to properly hang a net.
Wherever possible, the program seeks to integrate malaria prevention activities with efforts to control or eliminate diseases such as lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, and trachoma, enabling village-based health care delivery systems to address multiple diseases at once.
Results and Impact
In Nigeria: In the world's most malaria-endemic country, The Carter Center supported the distribution of 7.6 million insecticide-treated bed nets since 2004. The majority (7.1 million) of these have been provided as part of Nigeria's national campaign to dramatically scale-up bed net coverage nationwide.
In 2014, with support from The Carter Center, the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health issued a detailed set of co-implementation guidelines for a new effort to eliminate malaria and lymphatic filariasis. The first articulated guidelines of the kind in Africa, the plan takes advantage of shared interventions such as health education, distribution of long-lasting insecticidal bed nets, and mass drug administration.
In Ethiopia: Carter Center-assisted malaria prevention efforts in Amhara Region, including distribution of nearly 6 million insecticide treated bed nets, resulted in a significant decline in malaria prevalence from 4.6 percent in 2006 to 0.8 percent in 2011.
In Hispaniola: The Carter Center is working to encourage cooperation between health agencies in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to eliminate both malaria and lymphatic filariasis from the island the nations share.