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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Commentary

Discourse on malaria elimination: where do forcibly displaced persons fit in these discussions?

Holly A Williams1*, Heiko Hering2 and Paul Spiegel2

Author Affiliations

1 International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mail Stop F-60, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA, 30341, USA

2 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Case Postale 2500, CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt, Suisse, Switzerland

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Malaria Journal 2013, 12:121  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-121

Published: 10 April 2013



Individuals forcibly displaced are some of the poorest people in the world, living in areas where infrastructure and services are at a bare minimum. Out of a total of 10,549,686 refugees protected and assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees globally, 6,917,496 (65.6%) live in areas where malaria is transmitted. Historically, national malaria control programmes have excluded displaced populations.


The current discourse on malaria elimination rarely includes discussion of forcibly displaced persons who reside within malaria-eliminating countries. Of the 100 malaria-endemic countries, 64 are controlling malaria and 36 are in some stage of elimination. Of these, 30 malaria-controlling countries and 13 countries in some phase of elimination host displaced populations of ≥50,000, even though 13 of the 36 (36.1%) malaria-elimination countries host displaced populations of ≥50,000 people.


Now is the time for the malaria community to incorporate forcibly displaced populations residing within malarious areas into malaria control activities. Beneficiaries, whether they are internally displaced persons or refugees, should be viewed as partners in the delivery of malaria interventions and not simply as recipients.


Until equitable and sustainable malaria control includes everyone residing in an endemic area, the goal of malaria elimination will not be met.

Malaria; Malaria elimination; Refugees