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World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day, marked each year on 25 April, is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. The Day was instituted by World Health Organization (WHO) Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly.

Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called "malaria vectors." There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species - P. falciparum and P. vivax - pose the greatest threat.

Every year there are more than 200 million new cases of malaria. It is preventable and curable.

Symptoms

Malaria is an acute febrile illness. In a non-immune individual, symptoms usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms - fever, headache, and chills - 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.

Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria.

In adults, multi-organ failure is also frequent. In malaria endemic areas, people may develop partial immunity, allowing asymptomatic infections to occur.

Prevention

Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission. If coverage of vector control interventions within a specific area is high enough, then a measure of protection will be conferred across the community.

Treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission. The best available treatment, particularly for P. falciparum malaria, is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).

Elimination

Malaria elimination is defined as the interruption of local transmission of a specified malaria parasite species in a defined geographical area as a result of deliberate activities. Continued measures are required to prevent re-establishment of transmission.

Malaria eradication is defined as the permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of malaria infection caused by human malaria parasites as a result of deliberate activities. Interventions are no longer required once eradication has been achieved.

Countries that have achieved at least 3 consecutive years of 0 local cases of malaria are eligible to apply for the WHO certification of malaria elimination. In recent years, 9 countries have been certified by the WHO Director-General as having eliminated malaria: United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Maldives (2015), Sri Lanka (2016), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Paraguay (2018) and Uzbekistan (2018).

Theme for 2021 - Reaching the zero malaria target 

This year, WHO and other partners are marking World Malaria Day by celebrating the achievements of countries that are approaching, and achieving,malaria elimination. They provide inspiration for all nations that are working to stamp out this deadly disease and improve the health and livelihoods of their populations.

Between 2000 and 2019, the number of countries with fewer than 100 indigenous malaria cases – a strong indicator that malaria elimination is within reach – increased from 6 to 27. 

Malaria elimination certification at a glance

Certification of malaria elimination is the official recognition by WHO of a country’s malaria-free status. WHO grants this certification when a country has proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past 3 consecutive years.

A country must also demonstrate the capacity to prevent the re-establishment of malaria transmission. A national surveillance system capable of rapidly detecting and responding to malaria cases (if they were occurring) must be operational, together with an appropriate programme to prevent re-establishment of transmission. 

Source : WHO

Related resources

  1. (NVBDCP), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India
  2. World malaria report 2020


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