Somalia | Priority areas | Malaria control and elimination

Malaria control and elimination

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People receiving insecticide treated netsMalaria has decreased significantly in Somalia due to prompt treatment, indoor household spraying campaigns and distribution of bednets. Photo credit: WHO.                                Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver and then infect red blood cells. Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite.

If left untreated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. Malaria poses a major health risk in Somalia, particularly for pregnant women and children under five.

Transmission of malaria depends on climatic conditions that can affect the abundance and survival of mosquitoes, such as rainfall patterns, temperature and humidity. In many places, transmission is seasonal, with the peak period during and just after the rainy season.

Malaria epidemics can occur when climate and other conditions suddenly favour transmission in areas where people have little or no immunity to malaria. They can also occur when people with low immunity move into areas with intense malaria transmission, for instance to find work or as refugees.

The priority of the malaria control and elimination programme is to reduce malaria-related morbidity and mortality. This is done through malaria case management, selective vector control measures (including biological and environmental measures), use of insecticide-treated bed nets and intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women.

WHO has initiated several key preventive and curative interventions that include:

prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies

rolling out long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net distribution to protect pregnant women and children  

indoor residual spraying with insecticide.

In 2010, about 9500 malaria cases were reported in Somalia, compared to over 49 000 cases reported in 2006. This significant decrease was a result of prompt treatment, indoor household spraying campaigns and the distribution of bednets.


Regional malaria control and elimination programme

Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s)12 316
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 732
Total life expectancy at birth (years) 55.4

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

See Somalia country profile

Regional Health Observatory

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WHO Representative
WHO Liaison Office for Somalia in Nairobi
PO Box 63565