Malaria is still a major global health problem, killing more than 1 million people every year. Almost all of these deaths are caused by Plasmodium falciparum, one of the four species of malaria parasites infecting humans. This high burden of mortality falls heavily on Sub-Saharan Africa, where over 90% of these deaths are thought to occur, and 5% of children die before the age of 5 years. The death toll from malaria is still growing, with malaria-specific mortality in young African children estimated to have doubled during the last twenty years. This increase has been associated with drug resistance of the parasite, spread of insecticide resistant mosquitoes, poverty, social and political upheaval, and lack of effective vaccines.
This collection of reviews addresses many of these important issues of malarial immunity and immunopathology. They are of interest not only to malariologists, but hopefully also to the broader immunological community. Strong interactions with, and feedback from immunologists working in other infectious diseases and in basic immunology will help us to move the field of malaria immunology and therapeutic intervention forward more quickly.