No, an African child does not die of malaria every minute (thankfully)

malaria_infographicAs the world commemorates Malaria Day today, a tweet by the director of the Gates Foundation Africa team, Dr Ayo Ajayi, appears among trending tweets worldwide.

Ajayi had attached an infographic from the Malaria Vaccine Initiative to his tweet. The first bit of text states that “over 90% of malaria deaths occur in Africa, mostly in young children”. Below this, a piece of text reads: “In fact, a child dies of malaria every minute”.  

The footnote of the infographic states that it was based on data from the 2011 world malaria report as well as academic studies published in that year.

But the latest world malaria report shows that the frequency with which children are dying has dropped. As we reported last week, the WHO aggregates statistics from national estimates to provide an estimated death toll for children under five.

On average, 292,000 African children under five died of the disease last year, out of 306,000 worldwide. This works out to a frequency of one death just about every two minutes (1 minute 48 seconds).

Disclosure: Africa Check is funded by the Gates Foundation for health and development fact-checking.


UPDATE: Ajayi responded to our fact-check with this tweet:

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