April 25 is commemorated as World Malaria Day. The aim of World Malaria Day
(WMD) is to raise awareness, provide education and an understanding of malaria.
Malaria is a preventable and curable disease and WMD's objective is to
concentrate on prevention and cure. WMD also encourages community-based
activities to control the spread of malaria in malaria-endemic areas.
Day is one of the eight official global health campaigns marked by the World
Health Organization (WHO). It was established in 2007 during the 60th
session of the World Health Assembly (WHO's decision-making body).
World Malaria Day 2015 Theme
The World Health
Organization mission on World Malaria Day 2015 is to call for a high-level
commitment towards eradicating malaria across the globe. The theme for WMD was set
in partnership with Roll Back Malaria: "Invest
in the Future: Defeat Malaria."
The theme has been running since 2013 and
the call to action is to eradicate malaria globally.
Malaria Day 2013-15 theme reflects the strategies to be presented by the WHO to
the World Health Assembly in May. The post-2015 strategy's objective is to
reduce malaria cases and deaths by 90% by the year 2030.
focuses on sustained investment in malaria prevention, treatment and future research,
which requires political commitment from countries with endemic malaria
. World Malaria Day is an opportunity for
countries to learn from the experiences of other countries and also support
other malaria-endemic countries. It also encourages emerging research in
advanced malarial treatment and prevention.
Malaria-endemic countries have been fighting against this killer, this disease
still has a huge impact on people's livelihoods and health across the world. In
Africa, malaria kills almost half-a-million children under the age of five
every year. However, sustained global efforts have saved approximately 3.3
million lives since 2000. Malaria mortality rates have reduced to 42% globally
and 49% in Africa. An increase in political commitment and funding have reduced
malarial incidence by 25% globally and 31% in Africa.
fighting malaria is increased funds for treatment and research. There is a dire
need to combat drug-resistance in malarial patients and work on robust research
in insecticide resistance.
Day 2015 is an opportunity to make the public aware of this deadly disease and continue
to invest in proper control, prevention and treatment of malaria.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a
parasitic disease spread through the bites of infected Anopheles
mosquitoes. The Plasmodium
parasites are transmitted through the Anopheles
mosquito, which functions as a malaria vector. These mosquitoes mainly bite
between dusk and dawn. The four parasitic species causing malaria are:
- Plasmodium falciparum
- Plasmodium malariae
While the Plasmodium falciparum
and Plasmodium vivax
are most common, the Plasmodium falciparum
is the deadliest
3.3 billion people across 106 countries are at malarial risk. In 2012, an
estimated 627,000 deaths were caused by malaria. Malaria is most common in
sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, India and parts of Asia. Malaria is
especially dangerous for children below 5 years of age, pregnant women and
people with co-morbidities like HIV-AIDS
of malaria depends on a number of factors including the vector, the environment
and the human host. Most of the malarial vectors (Anopheles mosquitoes
) usually bite at dusk and through the night.
The Anopheles mosquitoes
prefer to breed in
shallow waters. Rainwater puddles, water stored in buckets and water-logged
fields are sites of breeding. Climatic conditions also accelerate the rate of
malarial transmission. Rainfall, temperature and humidity are some of the
factors. In most countries there are specific malarial seasons usually the
rainy season and the aftermath.
also affects the rate of transmission. In sub-Saharan Africa where malaria is
rampant, the prevalence of sickle-cell anemia
protective mechanism against malaria.
Miguel Soares, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC), Portugal who led a
research team to investigate the connection between sickle-cell anemia and
malarial immunity, the sickle-cell mutation could have been naturally selected
in sub-Saharan Africa to provide a protective mechanism in an area where
malaria is a rampant killer.
What are the Symptoms of Malaria?
appear after 7-10 days after the infective mosquito bite. The initial symptoms
include high fever, headache, chills and vomiting. These symptoms are often
difficult to distinguish from other fevers but the primary marker of difference
is severe chills and shivering.
by P. falciparum
can lead to severe
complications and death if not treated within 24 hours. Children can get into
complications including like severe anemia, respiratory distress and multiple
organ failure if they are not treated on time.
Diagnosis and Treatment
that all cases of suspected malaria should be confirmed with the
parasitic-based diagnostic testing before starting treatment. These test
results are usually available within 15 minutes of testing. In some cases,
clinical symptoms may be the sole guide to treatment.
treatment for malaria is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). Earlier
forms of treatment like chloroquine
are no longer effective due to drug
The best way to
prevent malaria is to control the vector which means mosquito control.
Insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor and outdoor spraying of insecticide,
low-cost body creams and sprays are useful in preventing mosquito bites.
However, the drawback remains that all these products are of chemical origin.
Malaria in India
Malaria in India
is a serious public health concern. There were over 1 million cases reported in
2008 of which, half was due to the more dangerous P. Falciparum
strain. Nearly 60% of malaria cases in South East
Asia are from India according to the WHO World Malaria Report 2008.
are reported from rural, urban and semi-urban areas. Incidence of malaria is
more common in the vulnerable, marginalized populations who lack access to
clean water, safe housing and sanitation facilities.
government along with public and private partnership has put in place a number
of prevention and control programs. Much of the financing for these programs
come from various sources like Central and State governments, The Global Fund,
World Bank, USAID, WHO, UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) and others.
India has also
adopted a number of proactive measures in prevention and control including free
distribution of insecticide-treated nets for all age groups (program adopted in
2001) and free ACT (artemisinin-based combination therapies, program adopted in
2006) therapy for all age groups in the public health centers and government
awareness programs have been raising awareness among the public on the
importance of a clean environment for malarial prevention and control. People
are advised not to store water in open containers to prevent larva breeding.
Several measures have been taken by public health authorities in states across
India to implement regular spraying of biological larvicides to avoid larva
breeding. Authorities also execute programs in the post-monsoon season to
minimize standing water puddles from becoming larva breeding grounds.
control of malaria requires substantial funding, robust public-private health
partnerships and massive public awareness campaigns if we are to become a