Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species – P. falciparum and P. vivax – pose the greatest threat. P. falciparum is the deadliest malaria parasite and the most prevalent on the African continent. P. vivax is the dominant malaria parasite in most countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa.


The first symptoms – fever, headache and chills – usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite and may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. Left untreated, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness and death within a period of 24 hours. [Source: WHO]


According to WHO’s latest World malaria report, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2020. This represents about 14 million more cases in 2020 compared to 2019, and 69 000 more deaths. Approximately two thirds of these additional deaths (47 000) were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic.

EDCTP portfolio: malaria

Collaborative clinical trials and clinical research (2014-2021)

For its malaria research funding strategy, EDCTP has prioritised the following areas:

  • Evaluation of new drugs and drug combinations, with a particular focus on children and pregnant women and uncomplicated malaria. Since the majority of individuals living in malaria-endemic areas are exposed to multiple infections, it is increasingly important to understand interactions between antimalarials and drugs used in the treatment of other diseases such as HIV, TB and NIDs.
  • Field testing of diagnostics to identify infection and resistance mutations.
  • Evaluation of new malaria vaccines.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of intervention strategies for drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, in the context of malaria elimination.

EDCTP’s malaria portfolio has a strong focus on prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnant women, accelerating the development of new combination drug treatments, and advancing candidate malaria vaccines.