Wednesday, April 25th, is World Malaria Day. This day of recognition for this deadly disease was instituted by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session in May 2007. It is a day designated for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control and eventual eradication of malaria. The theme of World Malaria Day 2012 is Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria, which emphasizes continuing with the trend of gains by scaling up malaria interventions.
Malaria statistics according to the World Health Organization (WHO):
About 3.3 billion people – half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2010, there were about 216 million malaria cases (with an uncertainty range of 149 million to 274 million) and an estimated 655 000 malaria deaths (with an uncertainty range of 537 000 to 907 000). Increased prevention and control measures have led to a reduction in malaria mortality rates by more than 25% globally since 2000 and by 33% in the WHO African Region.
People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to malaria. In 2010, 90% of all malaria deaths occurred in the WHO African Region, mostly among children under five years of age.
What causes malaria?
Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines.
What interventions can be taken?
Key interventions to control malaria include: prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies; use of insecticidal nets by people at risk; and indoor residual spraying with insecticide to control the vector mosquitoes.
For a Fact Sheet with more information about malaria, visit: WHO Factsheet
For a year-round resource on eradicating malaria and to find ways that you can participate, visit worldmalariaday.org.