April 25th annually marks World Malaria Day across the globe, a day to keep up the fight against this killer disease, with this year’s celebration focusing on Ending Malaria for Good.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there are an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa as millions of people are still not accessing the services they need to prevent and treat the disease.
WHO statistics show that there is still a significant challenge as globally, about 3.2 billion people in 106 countries – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria.
In Nigeria, the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) said the preliminary results of the Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) conducted last year indicated that the prevalence had come even further down from 42 per cent in 2010.
Malaria is a potentially life threatening disease of the blood, caused by a parasite, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
These micro-organisms are dependent on the host for their survival. The most deadly but preventable malaria parasite is known as Plasmodium Falciparum and it is the reason why major malaria deaths occur.
Symptoms include; fever, headache, chills and vomiting – may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.
Though there are currently no licensed vaccines against malaria or any other human parasite, here are some brilliant tips to help fight the bite as we mark this year’s WMD;
- Avoid mosquito bites and stay inside when it is dark outside, preferably in air-conditioned room
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, particulary from dusk to dawn
- Use bed nets while sleeping
- Use insect repellent – insect repellent with DEET (N,N diethylmetatoluamide) can be used on skin. It is recommended to use a preparation containing less than 24% strength in young children.
- Sprays containing permethrin are safe to use on clothing
- Keep your surroundings clean by treating your home’s walls with insecticide that can help kill adult mosquitoes
- Take preventative anti-malarial drugs whilst travelling overseas, especially to malaria-prone countries.
Some key facts about this deadly disease are:
- 3.2 billion (almost half of the world population) are at risk.
- There were 214 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015.
- In 2015, there were 438,000 deaths from malaria.
- Most of these deaths occurred in the African Region (90%), followed by the South-East Asia Region (7%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%).
- In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 306 000 under-fives globally, including 292 000 children in the African Region.
- Between 2000 and 2015, malaria incidence rates (new malaria cases) fell by 37% globally, and by 42% in Africa. During this same period, malaria mortality rates fell by 60% globally and by 66% in the African Region.
- For the first time, the European Region reported zero indigenous cases of malaria in 2015.
- In 2015, 97 countries had ongoing malaria transmission.
- Currently, there is no effective malaria vaccine on the market although progress has been made in the 10 years toward developing malaria vaccines. GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals’ RTS,S, is the first malaria vaccine canditate to have completed pivotal Phase 3 testing and obtained a positive scientific opinion by a stringent medicines regulatory authority.
- RTS,S is a vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally, and the most prevalent in Africa. It offers no protection against P. vivax malaria, which predominates in many countries outside of Africa.