Overview of malaria surveillance

Last update: 26 May 2015

Improved surveillance for malaria cases and deaths helps ministries of health to determine which areas and/or population groups are most affected and enables countries to monitor changing disease patterns. Strong malaria surveillance systems also help countries design effective health interventions and evaluate the impact of their malaria control programmes.

Malaria surveillance is currently weakest in countries with the highest malaria burden, rendering it difficult to accurately assess disease trends and plan interventions. Only about one tenth of the estimated 198 million cases that occurred in 2013 were detected and reported through national malaria surveillance systems (WHO’s uncertainty range for malaria cases is 124 – 283 million.)

WHO guidance

WHO urges malaria-endemic countries to strengthen their disease surveillance, health information and vital registration systems. The data generated through such systems are essential for evaluating and improving the effectiveness of health interventions.

Manuals on disease surveillance for malaria control and elimination

In April 2012, WHO published two operational manuals to provide updated guidance on global reporting standards, and to help endemic countries strengthen their surveillance systems. Disease surveillance for malaria control and Disease surveillance for malaria elimination describe the general principles of surveillance, recommended case definitions and core indicators, procedures for data recording, and guidance on the establishment of surveillance systems. The manuals also contain templates for recording, reporting and investigating malaria cases.

World Malaria Report

The World Malaria Report, published annually, brings together all the data reported by countries to WHO, including their surveillance data. For countries that do not have adequate surveillance systems, WHO produces estimates of cases and deaths.

Key documents