Malaria: blood, sweat, and tears

A photographic exhibition by Adam Nadel

About the exhibition

Malaria: blood, sweat, and tears was conceived by Malaria Consortium and award-winning photographer Adam Nadel to highlight the complex relationship between malaria and poverty, and the need for international support to combat the disease.

The images provide highly personal stories of the physical, emotional, economic and scientific spectrum of malaria, illustrating the impact of the disease on families, health workers, malaria researchers and local communities.

The collection was developed to show the history of the disease, its devastating effect, and the science that underpins a positive way forward.

The exhibition was first launched for World Malaria Day 2010 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in the presence of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. This was made possible with the support of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and sponsor, Vestergaard Frandsen. Since then, the exhibition has been shown all over the world to great public acclaim.

About Adam Nadel

Adam NadelBorn in 1967, Adam Nadel works at the intersections of journalism, science, and human rights.

Honours and awards include: First Prize at World Press Photo (Sports Feature 2003, Portrait Story 2004); First Place at Pictures of the Year International (News Picture Story 2002, Campaign Picture Story 2004, Portrait Story 2010, and Judges’ Special Recognition World Understanding Award 2010), a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography (2006); a Pulitzer Nomination; New York Times – The Face and Voice of Civilian Sacrifice in Iraq (2006); first prize at the Project Competition at the Santa Fe’s Centre (2006); and a Magnum Foundation Emergency Grant and National Science Foundation funding (2012), among others.


1. How did you come to develop this exhibition?

Malaria: blood, sweat, and tears was a collaboration between Malaria Consortium and myself. I was contacted by a high school friend, Peter Newton, who was working for Malaria Consortium at the time, who wished to explore with me the idea of creating an exhibition about the disease.

2. Have you done anything like this before?

Yes and no. I have produced exhibitions that incorporated photographs, oral histories, and text, but I had never developed an exhibition on disease or one that incorporated illustrations. It was very exciting and challenging.

3. Did you know anything about malaria before you started?

I contracted malaria in my early 20s while working in Central America so I was aware of both the illness’s dangers and global presence. But one of the most rewarding aspects of developing and then creating the show was educating myself about the history, science, and future of the parasite in order to better generate the show’s text and larger themes.

4. How did you gather the images? What was the reaction of the people you photographed?

Much of the credit for the quality of photographs goes to the staff from Malaria Consortium, who I worked with in the field. They had scheduled a number of meetings and already talked to the appropriate individuals so I could work.

Basically, we would go to places which were associated with malaria and malaria control and then I would shoot what I saw. The people I photographed were incredibly generous and receptive. They understood what we were trying to do and greatly valued the project; they know the horrific toll of the disease.

5. Did doing this make any lasting impression on you?

People living in countries that have eradicated malaria, such as the US or France, are incredibly lucky. It is difficult to fathom how fortunate.

6. How do you hope your exhibition will affect those who see it?

The idea was to create a show that was, at its core, educational. The hope was to clearly communicate the science, history, and current control efforts and also empathetically introduce the viewer to the daily reality created by malaria for over three billion people.

7. What is the message you would like people who see your work to take away with them?

Malaria is easily preventable and treatable.

8. Which is your favourite photo (or set of photos)?

No one image in particular. The idea was to use photographs to discuss malaria’s many facets. My favourite aspect of the show’s photography is that all the images work to highlight different issues and ideas.

9. Is there any one image that you most remember taking at the time?

What I remember most is being very lucky when working. The quality of the photographs is very much a reflection of the quality of the people I was working with and how generous the people in the portraits were with their time. This is what I remember most.

The Venues

The Malaria: blood, sweat, and tears exhibition has showcased at the following venues:

2013 – European Commission, Brussels, Belgium
2012 – Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, United States
2012 – National Museum of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
2012 – Hôtel de Ville, Paris, France
2012 – AAAS Gallery, Washington DC, United States
2011 – World Health Organization, Geneva
2010 – Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, United States
2010 – United Nations Headquarters, New York, United States

Malaria Consortium

Malaria ConsortiumMalaria Consortium is one of the world’s leading non-profit organisations specialising in the comprehensive control of malaria and other communicable diseases – particularly those affecting children under five and pregnant women, who are the most vulnerable. We work in Africa and Southeast Asia with all levels of society, local and international organisations, to ensure good evidence from our activities means positive and lasting results for those we serve.

With 95% of Malaria Consortium staff working in malaria endemic areas, our local insight and practical skills give us the agility to respond to critical challenges quickly and effectively. In this we are supported by international donors and foundations, national governments, as well as by the generosity of concerned members of the public.

We are extremely proud of being involved in helping to bring about Adam Nadel’s powerful portrayal of the fight against malaria. It is the people – the men, women and children – in these pictures that tell the story and show what can be achieved. Countries are making progress and saving lives. This exhibition is a testament to their commitment and courage.


Please help us in our fight against malaria. Even the smallest donation can support the work we are doing to try and bring an end to so much unnecessary loss of life.


Roll Back Malaria Partnership

Roll Back Malaria Partnership

The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership is the global framework for coordinated action against malaria. Founded in 1998 by three United Nations agencies – WHO, UNICEF, UNDP – and the World Bank, the RBM Partnership is a public-private partnership that currently consists of over 500 partners, including governments of endemic countries, multilateral and donor organisations, foundations, non-government organisations (NGOs), researchers, and the private sector. The RBM Partnership promotes high-level political commitment and keeps malaria high on the global agenda by enabling advocacy initiatives.

The RBM Partnership provides policy guidance, financial and technical support and monitors progress toward fighting the disease. Today, the RBM Partnership leads the effort to implement the Global Malaria Action Plan – the first single comprehensive blueprint to fight malaria worldwide.

Please visit Roll Back Malaria website for more information:
Roll Back Malaria Partnership