Is it rare to die if you get malaria? I know that every 45 seconds somebody dies from malaira, I just want to know if it is rare or not. What percentage of people who get malaria die?
There isn’t an easy answer to this question. The risk of death depends on the kind of malaria you get, your previous exposure to malaria and how fast you get treatment. P. falciparum is mostly found in Africa and parts of Asia, is the most serious and deadly type of malaria, and children are especially at risk of dying from it. In your question you mentioned someone dying every 45 seconds….that quote comes from the World Health Organization where experts estimate that in Africa, a child dies from malaria every 45 seconds.
Globally, international agencies estimate that between 300-500 million people get malaria every year and about 1 million people die from it. So it isn’t a rare occurrence to die from malaria but it should be because we have the knowledge to prevent and treat the disease which would drastically lower the number of deaths. People can take drugs as prevention and avoid mosquito bites by sleeping under a treated bednet; using mosquito repellent and avoiding being outside from dawn to dusk when mosquitoes bite. If you do get malaria, recognizing the symptoms and getting treatment quickly can be life saving.
However even the estimated 1,000,000 malaria deaths each year may not be accurate because it’s not easy to get trusted statistics. This is because many people (especially in rural Africa and Asia) don’t go to the hospitals or clinics when they get sick—either they don’t recognize the symptoms or they can’t reach a clinic or hospital in time. Even if they do get treatment, oftentimes medical reporting systems are weak.
Another issue is that sometimes deaths are not attributed to malaria but to another disease—for example in a young child a malaria death may be attributed to an acute respiratory infection which can also present with a high fever.
So in a nut shell, malaria is a serious disease, but we know how to lower the risk of getting it and we know that in most cases prompt treatment will prevent death. The challenge is to raise awareness in countries with malaria to promote prevention measures and to improve access to effective health care.