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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
After more than a decade of steady advances in fighting malaria, progress has levelled off.
Since 2000, malaria-affected countries and their development partners have made remarkable progress in reducing the total number of malaria cases and deaths. But the toll of malaria remains unacceptably high. Every two minutes, a child dies of this preventable and treatable disease. And each year, more than 200 million new cases of the disease are reported.
Changing the trajectory of current malaria trends will require stepped-up and coordinated action by all stakeholders. But progress can only be achieved through malaria responses that are country-owned.
WHO's campaign "Zero malaria starts with me" can foster an environment of accountability and action. The campaign engages all members of society: political leaders who control government policy decisions and budgets; private sector companies that will benefit from a malaria-free workforce; and communities affected by malaria, whose buy-in and ownership of malaria control interventions is key to success.
Source : WHO