People living in areas where malaria is common may get it several times during their lives, and develop some resistance. But young children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible. It is estimated that 2% of children who survive cerebral malaria suffer lasting damage which may impair learning and movement.
Treatment depends on the type of malaria (diagnosed by blood test), where it was contracted and how ill the patient is. A key problem in endemic areas in recent decades has been the growing resistance of the most dangerous parasite species to drugs used to prevent and cure malaria - in particular chloroquine, which is cheap and widely available. New combination treatments containing artemisinin, which comes from a Chinese plant, are recommended by the World Health Organization, but cost far more.