Why do Africans catch malaria more than others?
There are a number of reasons why malaria is more widespread in Africa than in many other parts of the world. However, it is worth mentioning that other parts of the world, such as India and south-east Asia, also have very high prevalence of malaria, especially in rural areas.
The high transmission of malaria is Africa is predominantly due to two factors: climate and control measures, or rather, the lack of them.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles, and so in order to persist, an area must have a suitable temperature for the development of both the mosquito as well as the malaria parasite. This limits malaria transmission to the sub-tropics and tropics, primarily. The area must also have sufficient rainfall and areas of standing water, since the malaria mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, which the larvae live in until they pupate into adults. This means that malaria transmission cannot occur in desert regions.
Unfortunately, a large portion of Africa, and particularly West, Central and East Africa, are climatically very well suited to the development of mosquitoes and thus the transmission of malaria.
In addition, many countries in Africa are not as developed as other tropical countries. This means that health resources have not been as focused on control efforts in Africa—for example, Malaysia very successfully reduced malaria transmission by a huge amount through a combination of vector control (namely spraying households with insecticides and filling up stagnant water pools so larvae couldn’t develop), distribution of bednets (which reduces mosquito biting rate) and better diagnoses and treatment facilities.
All of these efforts are beginning to be developed and rolled out in Africa as well, so hopefully in the near future we will also see a dramatic reduction in malaria transmission in Africa.