World Malaria Day: 10 Interesting Facts About Malaria
World Malaria Day was established in May 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s decision-making body.
The day was established to provide “education and understanding of malaria” and spread information on “year-long intensified implementation of national malaria-control strategies, including community-based activities for malaria prevention and treatment in endemic areas.”
Prior to the establishment of WMD, Africa Malaria Day was held on April 25. Africa Malaria Day began in 2001, one year after the historic Abuja Declaration was signed by 44 malaria-endemic countries at the African Summit on Malaria.
World Malaria Day sprung out of the efforts taking place across the African continent to commemorate Africa Malaria Day.
World Malaria Day allows for corporations (such as ExxonMobil, multinational organizations (such as Malaria No More and grassroots organizations (such as Mosquitoes Suck Tour globally to work together to bring awareness to malaria and advocate for policy changes.
Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria. In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children. Asia, Latin America, and to a lesser extent the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected.
For those of us that want to know a bit more about Malaria
These are 10 Facts About Malaria
1. The word “malaria” means “bad air.”
In the 18th century people thought that malaria was caused from breathing in bad air in marshy areas. In 1880 scientists discovered that this was not true, but the name stuck.
2. Malaria is spread by parasites.
Five different parasites can cause malaria in humans, but the Plasmodium falciparum parasite is the most deadly. The parasites enter the human bloodstream through the bite of an infected mosquito.
3. Malaria is most commonly found in Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.
Mosquitoes thrive in tropical and subtropical climates, so countries that are near the equator are more at risk. Additionally, many African and Southeast Asian countries have high poverty rates and people do not have access to malaria prevention and treatment, or are not educated on the disease.
4. Malaria can pass from human to human.
You cannot “catch” malaria like you can a cold, but people can pass it on by sharing needles, blood transfusions and through pregnancy.
5. When infected with malaria, symptoms can range from none to severe.
It can take anywhere from 9-40 days for symptoms to appear. Early symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, chills, headache, muscle aches, cough and sweating. If not treated within 24 hours the disease can worsen, leading to seizures, impairment of brain and spinal cord function, loss of consciousness and death.
6. Malaria infects an average of 200 million people each year.
Up to 1 million of these 200 million will die every year. Of malaria deaths, 90 percent occur in Africa. In Africa one child dies from malaria every minute.
7. There is a cure for malaria.
There are different drug treatments available depending on the strain of malaria an individual is infected with. The drugs cure malaria by killing all of the parasites within a person’s bloodstream. However, new waves of drug-resistant malaria are threatening the lives of millions.
8. The best cure for malaria is prevention.
There are two major ways that malaria is prevented. Insecticide-treated mosquito netting placed around beds is a good way to keep people safe while they sleep, and spraying a household with residual insecticide will effectively eliminate mosquitos in the house for three to six months.
9. Mortality rates are falling.
Since 2000, malaria mortality rates have fallen by 42 percent globally. This is largely due to increased prevention and faster testing and treatment to those who are thought to have malaria. By 2015, 52 countries are expected to have reduced their number of malaria cases by 75 percent. In the past four years the countries of Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan and Armenia have been certified by the World Health Organization as having eliminated malaria.
10. There is a promising vaccine currently being tested.
While there is currently no vaccine on the market to prevent against malaria, there is one being tested via clinical trial in seven African countries with positive results. Scientists feel very encouraged by this new treatment and the vaccine could be ready for full-time use as early as 2015.
These 10 facts on malaria depict the fact that although malaria is a curable and preventable illness, millions of people still contract it every year. Those who contract it mainly reside in poor countries where access to quality health care and education is more difficult to come by. If these people receive the proper education on malaria, as well as access to medications, then there would be no reason for anyone to be dying from this disease.