Some population groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria, and developing severe disease, than others. These include pregnant women, infants, and children under 5 years of age and patients with HIV/AIDS, as well as non-immune migrants, mobile populations and travellers.
National malaria control programmes need to take special measures to protect these population groups from malaria infection, taking into consideration their specific circumstances.
Malaria in pregnant women
Malaria in pregnancy increases the risk of maternal and foetal anaemia, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and neonatal death.
Malaria in infants
Infants born to mothers living in endemic areas are vulnerable to malaria from approximately 3 months of age, when immunity acquired from the mother starts to wane.
Malaria in children under five
In high-transmission areas of the world, children under 5 years of age (including infants) are the most vulnerable group.
Malaria in HIV/AIDS patients
Co-infection and interaction between these two diseases have major public health implications. HIV infection increases the risk of malaria infection, severe malaria and death, while malaria may result in the worsening of clinical AIDS.
Malaria in migrants and mobile populations
Migrants, refugees and other mobile population groups often lack partial immunity to malaria, and have limited access to prevention, diagnostic testing and treatment services.