World Malaria Day 2011 is a time for examining the progress we have made towards malaria control and elimination and to renew efforts towards achieving the target of zero malaria deaths by 2015.
Malaria is particularly devastating in Africa, where it is a leading killer of children. In fact, there are 10 new cases of malaria every second. Every 45 seconds, a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection.
Malaria does not only kill, it can have long term consequences. Severe malaria often leads to brain damage, holding back a child’s mental development resulting in lifelong impacts.
Yet Malaria is a preventable and curable disease and can be treated effectively with existing drugs and treatment is most effective if administered within 24 hours of the onset of fever.
It costs less than £4 to deliver a long-lasting insecticide treated bednets. The lives of 3 million children by 2015 if every child at risk of malaria sleeps under a net.
Malaria is a disease caused by the blood parasite Plasmodium, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria, from the Medieval Italian words mala aria or “bad air,” causes 200 million illnesses per year and kills nearly one million people – mostly children under the age of five.
Forty percent of the world’s population lives in malaria endemic countries, and its treatment consumes nearly 40 percent of these countries’ public health resources. In addition to the burden on local healthcare systems, malaria illness and death costs Africa approximately £7 billion per year in lost productivity.
However there have been notable successes, especially in Africa. In five years, following rapid improvements in control efforts, deaths from malaria fell by nearly 70% in Rwanda and 62% in Ethiopia. In Zanzibar, in east Africa, overall deaths from malaria have fallen 90% since 2003.
These success stories should give us hope. While eliminating malaria completely will always be the ultimate goal, there is no reason why anyone should die from it. Every life lost is needless. With common resolve and a united front malaria can be beaten.