#WorldMalariaDay2017: 25 April 2017

 

Forgive the late post but yesterday being April 25th was World Malaria Day. This is a significant day to be marked as it is a chance to shine a spotlight on the global effort to control malaria worldwide. Around 400,000 people die each year from various strains of the disease, which is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. The hope with highlighting this day is that with widespread implementation of prevention techniques this figure can be whittled down to zero.

There is this stigma pertaining to countries where mosquitoes are based such as Sub-Saharan Africa countries. Anytime I travel to Nigeria for vacation, I always remember on the way back to the UK, seeing some of the aircrew attendants spraying the plane with some sort of insecticide and that use to irk me (as if everyone on the plane were contagious or something) or that time, one of my cousins has malaria (after a trip back home to Nigeria) and was taken to a certain hospital in West London who decided to isolate her from everyone else and place her under quarantine (as if there are no worse diseases out there).

The question could then be asked why there is malaria in Africa: That is because the majority of infections in Africa are caused by Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four human malaria parasites. It is also because of the most effective malaria vector – the mosquito Anopheles gambiae – is the most widespread in Africa and the most difficult to control. Some 13 countries – mainly in subSaharan Africa – account for 76% of malaria cases and 75% deaths globally. Malaria disease can be categorised as uncomplicated or severe (complicated).

The truth is: Malaria is preventable and treatable, and history shows that in general, malaria is a curable disease if diagnosed and treated promptly and correctly. All the clinical symptoms associated with malaria are caused by the asexual erythrocytic or blood stage parasites.

So here are some information about Malaria and World Malaria Day (click on the Fact Sheet on Malaria for more information):

When is Malaria Day 2017? Malaria Day is every year on April 25.

What is the date all about?: World Malaria Day is all about celebrating the successes there have been in the drive to eradicate malaria from the world as well as raising awareness of the disease and its prevention.

What is this year’s theme? This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) titled its theme: Ending malaria for Good’ which aims to focus on demonstration prevention methods including using nets and spraying insecticide indoors.

What is malaria? A tropical disease which is spread by infected female anopheles mosquitoes. It only takes one bite from the insects to get the bug. Malaria caused by the falciparum parasite is the most serious and can lead to breathing problems, liver failure, coma and eventual death. Around 400,000 die from the disease every year. Worldwide there are around 212 million cases. Tackling malaria is improving with a 29% drop in mortality rates between 2010 and 2015 and a 21% global decrease in cases.

What are the symptoms? They are similar to flu and include a high temperature, sweats and chills, muscle pains and headaches. They usually appear 10-15 days after being bitten. But depending on the type of parasite you are infected with, it can take a year for symptoms to show. 

Who is most at risk? In areas with high malaria concentration, pregnant women and children are most at risk of contracting the disease. In 2015, more than two-thirds of deaths (70%) from malaria were of children under the age of five, according to WHO.

How do you prevent it?: Avoid being bitten as much as possible using nets over places of sleep, avoiding areas with lots of mosquitoes such as watering holes, using insecticide and bugs spray and taking anti-malarial tablets. 

Preventing malaria is as simple as ABCD:
A: Awareness: recognizing malaria!
B: Bite prevention: controlling mosquitoes
C: Chemoprophylaxis: use preventive medication
D: Diagnosis: early recognition

Since 2000, malaria prevention has played an important role in reducing cases and deaths, primarily through the scale up of insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying with insecticides. 

To speed progress towards these global targets, WHO is calling on malaria-affected countries and their development partners to boost investments in malaria prevention. In parallel, the Organization is calling for greater funding for the development, evaluation and deployment of new tools.

Malaria elimination

In recent years, 7 countries have been certified by the WHO Director-General as having eliminated malaria: United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Maldives (2015), Sri Lanka (2016) and Kyrgyzstan (2016). This certification is granted by WHO when countries achieve at least 3 consecutive years of zero locally-acquired cases of malaria.

Future progress in the fight to prevent malaria will likely be shaped by technological advances and innovations in new tools, including new vector control interventions, and possibly a vaccine.

One philanthropic couple I have admired from a distance are Bill & Melinda Gates who have always placed Malaria as a top priority of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their new multi-year Malaria strategy, Accelerate to Zero was adopted in late 2013 and addresses the areas in which they believe the foundation is best positioned, among a broad spectrum of partners, to develop ground-breaking approaches to reducing the burden of malaria and accelerating progress toward eradication of the disease. To date, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have committed nearly US$2 billion in grants to combat malaria.

Malaria cases are decreasing but there is still work to be done to eradicate the disease entirely.

We can be the generation that ends malaria – one of the oldest and deadliest diseases in human history.   Let’s Be in It to Win It – Stop Malaria!

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Yours in love – The Renaissance Lady ©

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