World Malaria Day 2017: Prevent Malaria, Save Lives
World Malaria Day is an international event commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria. The WHO has called for accelerated scale-up of efforts to prevent malaria and save lives.
- Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
- In 2015, 91 countries and areas had ongoing malaria transmission.
- Malaria is preventable and curable, and increased efforts are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places.
- Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called "malaria vectors." There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species P. falciparum and P. vivax pose the greatest threat. P. falciparum is the most prevalent malaria parasite on the African continent. It is responsible for most malaria-related deaths globally. P. vivax is the dominant malaria parasite in most countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa.
- Malaria is an acute febrile illness. In a non-immune individual, symptoms usually appear 1015 days after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms fever, headache, and chills may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, it can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.
- Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission. If coverage of vector control interventions within a specific area is high enough, then a measure of protection will be conferred across the community. Two forms of vector control insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying are effective in a wide range of circumstances.
- Avoid mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing over the arms and legs, using mosquito nets and screens, and insect repellents (cream, lotion, spray or vaporizer). Anti-malarial drugs can be prescribed for visitors to areas where malaria is prevalent.
World Malaria Day (WMD) is an international event commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria. It falls in World Immunization Week 24-30 April which celebrates the widespread use of vaccines that protect people against 26 diseases. Overall, vaccines prevent an estimated 2-3 million deaths each year.
The WHO has called for accelerated scale-up of efforts to prevent malaria and save lives. At an event on the eve of World Malaria Day in Nairobi, the UN health agency said more than 663 million cases have been averted since 2001 in sub-Saharan Africa, which shoulders 90% of the global malaria burden.
Together with diagnosis and treatment, WHO recommends a package of proven prevention approaches, including insecticide treated nets, spraying indoor walls with insecticides, and preventive medicines for the most vulnerable groups: pregnant women, under-fives and infants.
WHO's latest report spotlights critical gaps in prevention coverage, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 43% of people at risk of malaria in the region were not protected by either a net or indoor insecticide spraying in 2015. Approximately 69% of pregnant women in 20 African countries did not have access to the recommended 3 or more doses of preventive treatment.
However, the rate of new malaria cases fell by 21% globally between 2010 and 2015, according to the World Malaria Report 2016. Malaria death rates fell by 29% in the same 5-year period. In sub-Saharan Africa, case incidence and death rates fell by 21% and 31%, respectively. Other regions have made substantial gains in their malaria responses, but the disease remains a major public health threat.
In 2015, the global tally of malaria reached 429 000 malaria deaths and 212 million new cases. One child died from malaria every 2 minutes.
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