Malaria causes some 300 million cases of disease and kills about 1.1 million people a year, most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is caused by Plasmodium parasites spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes. The direct costs alone of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa have been estimated at $500 million per year. Although there are numerous drugs that can be effective against malaria, their power is being steadily diminished as the parasites develop resistance to them.
Malaria is undergoing a resurgence as a result of various social and environmental changes, including population movements, health system failure, breakdown in control efforts and, possibly, global warming. Despite decades of research, no vaccine has yet been licensed for malaria, despite several promising leads.
Analyses of research spending suggest that malaria vaccines have been relatively neglected. Despite a recent increase, overall malaria research spending worldwide totals only about $100 million, out of a total of around $56 billion spent on all biomedical research.
For more information see the Malaria section of the website of of the UNDP- World Bank-WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR): http://www.who.int/tdr/diseases/malaria/default.htm