World Malaria Day 2020: WHO's anti-malaria campaign and target to eliminate malaria from 35 more countries by 2030
According to WHO reports, malaria affected more than 228 million people in the world in 2018 and killed about 405,000 people globally in the same year.
April 25 is observed as the World Malaria Day on the World Health Organisation (WHO) calendar. The day was first proposed in the 60th World Health Assembly (in 2007) and was first celebrated in the year 2008.
According to WHO reports, malaria affected more than 228 million people in the world in 2018 and killed about 405,000 people globally in the same year. Almost 80% of all these deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. However, India reported a reduction of about 2.6 million cases in 2018 as compared to 2017.
Children under the age of 5 years comprised 67% of all the malaria deaths in the world. About 11 million pregnant women were exposed to malaria in the moderate to high transmission areas in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Though malaria affects all the tropical and subtropical areas, Africa is worst hit by malaria due to favourable weather conditions and its lack of resources that allow for the growth and spread of the malaria parasite and mosquito all year round.
So, even though the whole world is busy fighting the global pandemic, the WHO has urged all countries to move quickly and take preventive measures against malaria.
Zero malaria starts with me
The theme of this year’s World Malaria day is “Zero malaria starts with me”. It is a grassroots campaign aimed at empowering communities to take the responsibility of preventing and treating malaria and to keep malaria high on the political agenda to improve the mobilisation of resources that can help the communities do the same.
According to the WHO, the cases of this infectious disease don’t seem to be reduced by much between 2014 and 2018 despite so many efforts. The number can only be brought down by the involvement of the communities in the worst-hit countries.
Everyone — right from political parties to public and private sector companies — has to understand their role in this anti-malaria campaign.
A world free of malaria
A malaria-free world is one of the major goals of the World Health Organisation since its establishment in the year 1948. While the malaria eradication program of the WHO between the year 1955 and 1969 worked to eradicate the disease from various countries, it still could not eradicate the disease in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The 68th World Health Assembly held in 2015 endorsed a bold plan to eliminate 90% of the burden of malaria — both death and infection — by the year 2030. The plan also aims to eliminate malaria from at least 35 more countries. It is important to note that elimination is different from eradication. The former means breaking the chain of transmission of the disease and bringing the number of cases to zero in a given area along with continuous methods to prevent re-establishment of transmission. No interventions are needed once the disease is eradicated completely.
The world has only eradicated smallpox and cattle plague (rinderpest) so far and is on the verge of eradicating polio. However, eradication is not an easy task, it needs constant efforts.
Only with rapid diagnosis, adequate prevention measures and availability of treatment can the number of cases be controlled. However, according to a recent report published by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group on Malaria Eradication, the development of insecticide resistance and resistance to antimalarial drugs, along with a lack of financial support may hinder the progress of the program.
For more information, read our article on Malaria.
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