Some key facts on the disease:

 

* Malaria can be fatal. It is transferred to humans from the bite of a malaria-infected mosquito. Symptoms include fever and a flu-like illness. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can occur and even anaemia and jaundice. One type, plasmodium falciparum, if not promptly treated, may cause kidney failure, seizures, coma and death.

 

* About 350 million to 500 million people in more than 100 countries each year catch the disease, which can kill in hours, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN Children's Fund (Unicef) said in their World Malaria Report 2005.

 

* 41% of the world's population live in areas where malaria is transmitted, for example, parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, Hispaniola and Oceania.

 

* An estimated 700,000 to 2.7 million people die of malaria each year, 75% of them African children.

 

* Over 80% of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where about 66% of the population are thought to be at risk.

 

* In 2002, malaria was the fourth cause of death in children in developing countries, after perinatal conditions (conditions occurring around the time of birth), lower respiratory infections (pneumonias) and diarrhoeal diseases.

 

* Malaria causes 10.7% of all children's deaths in developing countries. In Malawi in 2001, malaria accounted for 22% of all hospital admissions, 26% of all outpatient visits and 28% of all hospital deaths. Not all people go to hospitals when sick or having a baby, and many die at home, so the true numbers of death and disease caused by malaria are very likely higher.