Friday, April 25, 2014

Invest in the Future, Defeat Malaria!

April 25th is the annual commemoration of World Malaria Day. Malaria is an infectious disease that is transmitted by a bite from malaria-carrying female mosquitoes. There are mild forms of malaria, but the more severe manifestations can be deadly.

The majority of deaths as a result of malaria occur among African children, but large portions of Asia, Latin America, areas of the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected by the tropical disease. Around the world, 3.4 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria; 97 of these countries have current cases of transmission and 99 have recurring cases.

Over the last decade, the world has made major progress in the fight against malaria. Since 2000, malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than 25%, and 50 of the 99 countries with ongoing transmission are now on track to meet the 2015 World Health Assembly target of reducing incidence rates by more than 75%. A major scale-up of vector control interventions, together with increased access to diagnostic testing and quality-assured treatment, has been key to this progress.

But we are not there yet. Malaria still kills an estimated 660 000 people worldwide, mainly children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. Every year, more than 200 million cases occur; most of these cases are never tested or registered. A recent plateauing of international funding has slowed down progress, and emerging drug and insecticide resistance threaten to reverse recent gains.

The World Malaria Day website has many helpful resources to learn about the malaria epidemic and how you can help spread awareness and get involved, no matter where you live: