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Base Knowledge and Understanding

Base knowledge and understanding

Video Clip
Data Visualization
Definition Malaria
Sub-Saharan Africa
Anopheles mosquito
Disease vector
News Article
Words to be defined
Base Level



The aim of this lesson:

  • To examine the geographic factors responsible for the incidence and spread of malaria.
  • To evaluate the geographic impact of malaria at the local and national scales.
  • To describe the factors that have enabled reduction in incidence of malaria.

“Today, 2000 children will die because they were bitten by a mosquito, and it’s entirely preventable...”

Malaria is a major world issue. It has traditionally been viewed as a disease which is determined by geographical location and environmental conditions. However, human intervention has started to influence the distribution of the disease.
Look at the Worldmapper map below, which shows the global distribution of malaria. Remember that on these maps, the area of a country is proportional to a particular variable, so the shrunken size of North and South America means that malaria is hardly present in that part of the world.
Worldmapper - Malaria Cases

WHO facts

About 3.3 billion people - half of the world's population - are at risk of malaria.

There are 106 malaria endemic countries.

Every year, this leads to about 250 million malaria cases and nearly one million deaths. People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable.

Malaria is especially a serious problem in Africa, where one in every five (20%) childhood deaths is due to the effects of the disease.

Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria.

Malaria is the 4th leading cause of death for children globally.

Malaria has been estimated to cost Africa more than U.S. $12 billion every year in lost economic productivity, and can cost households as much as 32 percent of their entire monthly income.

Insecticide-treated bed nets could prevent as many as 1 million deaths from all causes of malaria for children under 5.

If universal malaria prevention could be maintained until 2015, an estimated 2.95 million African children’s lives could be saved.

Geography Activities


Geography Activities

Geographic factors responsible for the incidence and spread of malaria

Malaria forms part of the Millennium Development Goals. Goal 6, Target 3 says:

“the spread of malaria to be halted by 2015 and begun to reverse”

  World Health Organization - Malaria Factsheet
Geography Activities

Geographic impact of malaria at the local and national scales - Kenya


Geographic impact of Malaria in Kenya


Malaria - Social

The Guardian
Malaria vaccine test results disappoint [20 March 2013]

Malaria - Economic

WHO - World Malaria Report 2013 - Country profiles
Geography Activities

Factors that have enabled a reduction in incidence of malaria

These are some of the measures that have been used to reduce the incidence of malaria. Remember the following information about the disease:

  • Mosquitoes are more active at night.
  • Being inside a building does not guarantee protection.

There are two obvious strategies which are used

  • Protect humans from mosquito attack.
  • Reduce the population of mosquitoes.

Nets for beds

Malaria nets are impregnated with insect repellent, as well as providing a physical barrier to the insects at a time when people are particularly vulnerable. They are also known as Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) or Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs). This technique is also sometimes linked with Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS.

The Guardian
  Malaria - on the long, slow but steady road to elimination [28 June 2011]
The Telegraph
  Rise in cases of malaria in Africa linked to insecticide-treated bed nets [18 August 2011]
BBC News
  Mosquitoes 'developing resistance to bed nets' [17 August 2011]

Anti-malarial drugs

Drugs are expensive, and there are millions of people who would need to be taking them, which could mean that they lose some of the natural resistance that they could have.

Drugs companies make millions of dollars from drugs, which are not necessarily supplied at the cheapest possible price. Many aid agencies and organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation distribute drugs in places where malaria is having a major impact.

How realistic would it be to distribute drugs to all the people living in countries where malaria is endemic?

Do drugs lose their effectiveness if used on a large scale, and over a long period of time?


Targeting mosquito larvae and the places where they breed

This strategy involves reducing the areas of stagnant water where the mosquito might breed. Open water should be covered, redundant irrigation channels should be filled in, and open drains avoided. The scale of the problem means this is likely to prove difficult to achieve.

Fish can also be stocked into ponds to eat the larvae. This has the added bonus of providing a potential sustainable food supply too. One issue is that many of the ponds where mosquitoes breed are not permanent, but are caused by seasonal rains, or intermittent flooding. When there is flooding on a massive scale, stagnant water can sit around for months, and there is no chance of removing it.

This strategy is aimed at disrupting the life cycle of the mosquito. This strategy has been tried in Somalia, and is also known as ‘Larval control’.

The use of insecticides is expensive, and can contaminate groundwater. Insects also build up resistance to the insecticides over time.

Geography Review



For a named country or region, evaluate the geographic impacts of malaria. [10 marks]

The markbands can be found here - you need to look at Paper 2.

Essay Graphic Organiser
Alan Parkinson   These Geography of Food and Health resources were written by Alan Parkinson and edited by Richard Allaway. Alan is a an independent geography consultant, author and trainer, fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Chartered Geographer and founder member of the Geography Collective. on facebook
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