October 2016

Unlocking Malaria

Ronald Ross (1857–1932) was an Indian-born British military doctor who discovered the malarial parasite in the stomach of an Anopheles mosquito in 1897, confirming the link between mosquitoes and malaria transmission in humans. He later established the complete life cycle of the malarial parasite when he observed mosquitoes were responsible for transmitting the organism from infected birds to healthy ones. The son of a British general serving in the British Indian Army, Ross’s lifelong devotion to malaria research and prevention earned him the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902.

Ronald Ross


Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by Plasmodium spp. These parasites are prevalent in much of the tropics. Once in the bloodstream, the parasite travels to the liver, where it infects and ruptures liver cells. In its next stage of development, the parasite migrates back into the bloodstream and invades red blood cells, multiplying until the red blood cells burst and release more parasites. This ongoing cycle causes various symptoms including chills, fever, jaundice, and anemia.

2700 BCE

The symptoms of malaria were first described in ancient Chinese writings.


The percentage that the malaria mortality rate has declined since 2000.


In 1998, public and private entities joined forces to create the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership. Launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and World Bank, RBM now includes hundreds of partners and funding of $2.6 billion. In 2014, WHO reported that 55 countries were on track to reduce their malaria case incidence rates by 75% by 2015, in line with RBM program targets.