The parasite kills more than 665,000 a year.
But missionaries like Jill Wondel imagine a world with no malaria at all.
"Through our efforts we can help to mitigate malaria so no one dies from it, even if people are still getting it. Things like prevention, bed nets, education, all that will mitigate the deaths," said Wondel, as she was speaking to the pastors and congregations of United Methodist Churches in St. Joseph.
She is calling them to action to support the Imagine No Malaria effort.
"Access to healthcare is a big issue," Wondel said. "Also, education is a big factor. For the longest time they didn't know why they were getting sick or how they were getting sick. They couldn't really prevent it. So part of what we're doing is working on education."
Malaria is a parasite spread through mosquito bites. It attacks the liver first and then the bloodstream.
"You'd get chills, high fever, vomiting; it's just really unpleasant," Wondel said. "They say if you want to experience malaria, imagine having the flu and multiply it by 5 or 10. It's just miserable."
Dr. Susan Ventura is a minister at the Francis Street UMC. She is the one who brought Wondel before the group.
Dr. Ventura admits she and congregation members are ignorant about malaria.
"How can we ever fight it until we understand what it is, what's the history, what has gone on?" she said, following Wondel's presentation.
Faith-based organizations like Imagine No Malaria account for sixty percent of the relief effort in Africa.
"Spirituality is sometimes one of those things you can't measure well," Dr. Ventura said. "When we're able to see some numbers and lives saved, through the efforts of Christian people, in mission across the globe, that's exciting."
And hoping for a future end to what she calls a preventable disease, Jill Wondel will continue advocating her cause all over the state of Missouri.
Wondel says global relief efforts are starting to pay off.
She says the old statistic was "every 30 seconds someone dies from malaria." Now that stat is "every 60 seconds someone dies from malaria." It is perhaps still a grim statistic, but one that still shows marked progress in the efforts.
Wondel is also happy to say that some African countries are now reporting no deaths from malaria in a given year.
If you would like to give to their effort, there are links to donate on the Imagine No Malaria Missouri website.