World Malaria Day is observed on April 25 every year, with an aim to raise awareness among the population about malaria, treatment, prevention, and strategies to reduce the prevalence and burden of malaria across the globe. In the last 20 years, there has been significant progress in the malaria fight, saving 7 million lives and preventing over 1 billion malaria cases. In 2007, at the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, it was proposed that Africa Malaria Day be changed to World Malaria Day to recognize the existence of malaria in countries worldwide, thus bringing greater awareness to the global fight against this febrile disease.
The World Malaria Day theme for the year 2022 is “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives,”. Despite several medical advancements, till date, no single tool is designed to solve the problem of malaria. On this health day, WHO is calling for investments and innovation that would foster new vector control strategies, diagnostics, antimalarial medicines, and other tools to speed the steps to progress the fight against malaria.
World Health Organization (WHO), report states that malaria is preventable and treatable disease, but this parasitic infection continues to have a distressing impact on the health status of populace worldwide. As per statistics in 2020, there were an around 240 million new cases of malaria and 62700 mortalities in 85 countries. The alarming fact is that more than two-thirds of deaths were among children age of 5 living in the African region. It can be life-threatening, if not promptly treated.
How Human Body Catches Malarial Infection?
Malaria as we know is a life-threatening disease caused by plasmodium parasites that spreads through bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the deadliest ones out of these 5 species known to cause malaria in humans. Malaria parasites live in the red blood cells of infected people. When mosquitoes bite an infected person, they pick up the parasite. Malaria parasites first go to your liver and then into your blood and reproduce inside your red blood cells. Eventually the red blood cells burst and release the parasites, which then infect more red blood cells. If many red blood cells are destroyed, a drastic low blood count is inevitable.
Also read: World Malaria Day: Fight Malaria With These Home Remedies
Facts About This Life-Threatening Disease:
- The word malaria means bad air. Before 1897, people thought that malaria was caused from breathing in bad air in marshy areas. It was only discovered in 1897 that the disease was transmitted by mosquitoes and not by inhaling bad air. The fact was discovered but this name stuck forever.
- Children under five years of age, those living in most vulnerable conditions, are terribly affected every year by Malaria which happens to be the third largest killer among young children, the other two being pneumonia and diarrhea.
- Mosquitoes breed in warm subtropical climates, thus countries that are near the equator are more at risk. Four African countries Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Republic of Tanzania, and Mozambique account for just over half of all malaria deaths every year. These countries have high poverty rates and low treatment resources, besides being breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- Like cold and cough malaria is not contagious but people can pass it on by sharing needles, blood transfusions and through pregnancy and through organ transplants.
- If the right drugs are used, there is a cure for malaria. The treatments available depend on the strain of malaria an individual is infected with.
- The best cure for malaria is prevention. There are two major ways that malaria is prevented. Sleeping under an insecticide treated net is an easy and most effective way to prevent malaria. Spraying a household with residual insecticide also eliminates mosquitoes for a longer duration.
- While there is currently no vaccine available in the market to prevent malaria, scientists are hopeful that a vaccine currently being tested for malaria should be ready for use in near future.
The control and eradication of this parasitic infection calls for a multidimensional approach. At present there are a broad spectrum of tools, including insecticide spraying and insecticide-treated bed nets available to support to avert the transmission of the infection via the mosquito vector. However, no preventative approach is 100% effective. The current WHO recommended first-line treatment mode is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). These medications, together with prompt diagnosis, appropriate education and ample treatment resources will prevent malaria, contribute to reducing transmission thus lowering mortality rates worldwide.