World Malaria Day 2017

World Malaria Day 2017

Health Watch
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Highlights:
  • Malaria, a life-threatening disease caused by parasites, is preventable and can be controlled by simple measures.
  • Though new malaria cases reduced by 21% between 2010 and 2015 and malaria death rates fell by 29% in the same 5-year period, there is a gap in its prevention.
  • WHO calls for greater investment in the development and deployment of new malaria control tools to speed up prevention of the disease.
Every year the 25th of April is observed as World Malaria Day to highlight the need for prevention and control malaria. Sustained funding for research, preventive measures and drugs for treatment along with political assistance can help in putting malaria to a halt.
World Malaria Day 2017

The World Malaria Day 2017 theme is 'End Malaria for Good'. The number of new cases of malaria has come down through various prevention strategies such asscaling up of insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying with insecticides. But, continuing the effort to wipe out malaria with new tools and necessary manpower would help us improve maternal and child health, pregnant women and children under 5 being the most affected population.

A Note on Malaria

Malaria is a serious parasitic disease and is carried to humans through mosquitoes infected with the protozoan parasite called Plasmodium. There are 5 species of Plasmodium (Malaria parasite) which infect humans.

An important fact about malaria is that only the female mosquitoes belonging to Anopheles genus act as vectors in carrying the disease. These mosquitoes' blood feed on infected humans and contribute to the transmission of malaria. However, malaria is a non-contagious disease and does not spread directly from person-to-person.

Fewer New Cases

Nearly half of the world's population was at risk of malaria in 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East were mostly affected. In 2015, Sub-Saharan African region was home to 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths.

But between 2010 and 2015, the incidence of malaria, especially the rate of new cases among populations at risk, fell by 21% globally. Malaria mortality rates fell by 29% globally among all age groups, and by 35% among children under 5. Preventive treatment for pregnant woman increased five-fold between 2010 and 2015 in 20 African countries.

Preventive Tools

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying - are effective in vector control. To prevent and reduce transmission of malaria, controlling vectors or mosquitoes is key.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), are the mainstay of malaria prevention efforts. WHO recommends that all people at risk of malaria sleep under an LLIN every night.
  • Indoor residual spraying (IRS) with insecticides is another powerful way to rapidly reduce malaria transmission. Depending on the insecticide formulation used and the type of surface on which it is sprayed, indoor spraying is effective for 3-6 months.
  • For travelers, malaria can be prevented through antimalarial drugs. Chemoprophylaxis suppresses the blood stage of malaria infections, thereby preventing malaria disease.
  • WHO recommends intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, at each scheduled antenatal visit after the first trimester for pregnant women living in moderate-to-high transmission areas.
  • Along with the routine vaccinations, 3 doses of intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine are recommended for infants living in high-transmission areas of Africa.
  • Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention, an additional malaria prevention strategy for areas of the Sahel sub-Region of Africa was suggested in 2012. The strategy involves the administration of monthly courses of amodiaquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine to all children under 5 years of age during the high transmission season.
  • Developing new nets to prevent insecticide resistance should also be a priority. Using 2 different insecticides in a mosquito net can mitigate the risk of the development and spread of insecticide resistance.

Meeting the Goal

WHO's Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for a 40% reduction in malaria cases and deaths by 2020, compared to 2015 baseline levels. Only 40 of the world's 91 countries with malaria transmission are on track to achieve these milestones.

Many people who live in malaria-affected countries continue to lack access to lifesaving prevention tools.WHO is calling on malaria-affected countries and their development partners to boost investments in malaria prevention to speed progress towards these global targets. Apart from the two forms of vector control - insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying, there is a need to develop new tools.

With the required funds and a joint effort from countries in prevention, we can transform our common vision - End Malaria for Good - into a shared reality.

Reference:
  1. Malaria Facts - (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/)
  2. World Malaria Day, 25 April 2017 - (http://www.who.int/campaigns/malaria-day/2017/en/)

Source: Medindia

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