World Malaria Day, 2024.

World Malaria Day, 2024.

World Malaria Day is celebrated on April 25th. Malaria is a severe disease caused by a parasite, Plasmodium. The parasite commonly infects female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is transmitted to humans with the infected mosquito bite as it feeds on human hemoglobin. Blood transfusion and contaminated needles may also transmit the parasite to humans. Still, it does not spread from person to person as the parasite won’t be present in an infected person’s saliva. Symptoms can vary from mild to life-threatening. Typical mild symptoms include fever, chills, headache, and flu-like illness, which start within 10-15 days of getting bitten by an infected mosquito. Whereas the disease becomes fatal, exhibiting symptoms like extreme tiredness, fatigue, multiple convulsions, confusion, dark or bloody urines, jaundice, abnormal bleeding, seizures, and difficulty breathing. If left untreated, the disease progresses to cause death within 24 hours. Typically, infants, children under five years, pregnant women, travelers, and people with chronic immune diseases such as HIV/AIDS are at higher risk of severe infection. However, Malaria can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites and ensuring hygiene practices; it can also be cured with medicines and proper treatment. Approaching doctors, taking tests, and undergoing treatment can stop mild cases from getting worse. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial to avoid serious complications or even death from Malaria.

World Malaria Day 2024

Malaria Facts & History

Today, Malaria exists in over 100 countries and has claimed 608,000 lives out of the 249 million malaria cases that were recorded in 2022. Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of Malaria. For the reason that anopheles mosquitoes thrive in higher temperatures and humid conditions, and the malaria parasite needs a warm climate to survive, malaria disease is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries such as Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Western Pacific, and Southeast Asia countries. Even so, a higher percentage of malaria cases and deaths were recorded from the WHO Africa region. In 2001, African governments marked April 25 as Malaria Day to raise awareness and work towards the goal of controlling the spread of Malaria and reducing the mortality rate in African countries. In 2007, at the 60th session of the World Health Assembly by the World Health Organisation(WHO), it was proposed that Africa’s Malaria Day be changed to World Malaria Day to recognize the existence of Malaria in countries worldwide and to bring greater awareness to the global fight against the disease.

Malaria is most prevalent in poor, tropical, and subtropical countries—a CDC report.

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Since 2007, the Centers for Disease Control(CDC) has joined the global community in recognizing World Malaria Day. This day is for international observance and to recognize global efforts to control and ultimately eradicate the disease. WHO estimates 300-500 million cases are being reported annually, out of which 700,000 to 2.7 million succumb to the disease. WHO says Malaria remains a leading cause of preventable illness and death around the world, especially among infants, children, and pregnant women. Malaria disease was said to be eliminated from the United States 70 years ago, yet around 2,000 Americans are infected each year. However, with proper treatment, proven tools and methods such as insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor insecticide spraying, better case management of Malaria in children and pregnant women, expanded preventive medicine during high malaria transmission season, and insecticide resistance monitoring, those numbers might come way down.

World Malaria Day(WMD) is one of 11 official global public health campaigns currently marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, World Patient Safety Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World Chagas Disease Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day and World AIDS Day. A report from 2020 stated that 29 of the 85 malaria-endemic countries accounted for 96% of the malaria cases, of which 1.7% of malaria cases and 1.2% deaths were reported from India. Globally, estimated malaria cases in 2020 increased to 241 million from 227 million in 2019. Africa accounted for 95% of these cases. At the same time, malaria deaths have increased by 12% in 2020 compared to 2019, to an estimated 627,000. However, the percentage of total malaria deaths in children under five years has reduced from 87% in 2000 to 77% in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, all high-burden to high-impact (HBHI) countries reported increases in cases and deaths except India. Over the last two decades(2000-2020), India showed a significant decline in the number of malaria cases and fatalities, with a drop of 71.8% in the number of cases and a 73.9% drop in deaths. Every year, there is significant progress in reducing these numbers, with a 20% decrease in 2018 compared to the previous year and a 21.27% decrease in 2019 compared to 2018. In 2020, till October, a 45.02% reduction rate has been recorded.  

Yet, the global fight against Malaria is not over until it’s completely eradicated and the disease spread is prevented. Vaccines have been developed but are not available worldwide and to all sections of people around the world. So, each year, WHO collaborates with other organizations and comes up with distinct themes that highlight the goals and objectives for that year for global malaria prevention and eradication campaigns. WMD brings various organizations such as Malaria No More, corporations such as ExxonMobil, and grassroots organizations such as Mosquitoes Suck Tour together to work collectively to bring awareness to Malaria and advocate for policy changes.

World Malaria Day Themes

Each World Malaria Day focuses on a specific theme. This year’s theme is: 

World Malaria Day 2024: “Accelerating the fight against malaria for a more equitable world.” The emphasis of this year’s theme is on the following objectives:

  • Ending discrimination and stigma 
  • Engaging communities in health decision-making 
  • Bringing health care close to where people live and work through primary health care 
  • Addressing factors that increase malaria risk 
  • Including malaria control interventions in universal health coverage 

Interestingly, 2024’s theme is in sync with this year’s World Health Day theme, “My Health, My Right”. As WHO stated, “Everyone has the right to quality, timely, and affordable services to prevent, detect, and treat malaria, yet this is not a reality for all.” So with this theme, WHO highlights the urgent need to address the grave inequities that persist in access to prevention, detection and treatment services of Malaria within all economic communities from malaria-endemic countries.

Previous themes of WMD year by year: 

  • World Malaria Day 2023: “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement”
  • World Malaria Day 2022: “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives.”
  • World Malaria Day 2019-2020-2021: “Zero malaria starts with me”
  • World Malaria Day 2018: “Ready to beat malaria”
  • World Malaria Day 2017: “Let’s Close The Gap”
  • World Malaria Day 2016: “End Malaria For Good”
  • World Malaria Day 2013-2014-2015: “Invest in the future: defeat malaria”
  • World Malaria Day 2012: “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria”
  • World Malaria Day 2011: “Achieving Progress and Impact”
  • World Malaria Day 2009-2010: “Counting malaria out”
  • World Malaria Day 2008: “Malaria: a disease without borders”

Global Events

The fight against Malaria is one of humanity’s most significant concerns in protecting public health. The global progress in malaria prevention and control over the last two decades resulted in a reduction in overall cases and deaths, which is appreciable. But after years of steady declines, now the number of cases and deaths are rising upward. Today, a child dies of Malaria every minute. Conflicts, climate change, and increasing insecticide resistance jeopardize the successes the global organizations have fought tirelessly to achieve over the last two decades. Health organizations call this the time to fight back more. With relevant awareness campaigns, new tools, targeted prevention, testing, and improved treatment methods, now is the moment to accelerate progress to end Malaria for good. More than ever before, countries should unite to strengthen and sustain the fight against Malaria.

Over the years, various countries have organized events to create awareness, exercise prevention and control of the Malaria disease. Following are some of such events:

Europe

Leading to World Malaria Day 2014, the European Vaccine Initiative announced sixteen new projects to accelerate malaria vaccine development. The projects were to be undertaken by an international consortium involving partners from the public and private sectors from Europe, the USA, and Africa.

India

For World Malaria Day 2017, efforts across India included a series of measures to control the spread of this vector-borne disease. The coastal city of Mangaluru identified open water resources to target for eliminating mosquitoes that spread Malaria.

Nigeria

Events marking World Malaria Day 2014 in Nigeria included:

  • A demonstration of antimalarial bed nets
  • Testing and distribution of antimalarial drugs.
  • Seminars on progress in combating and controlling Malaria.
  • Inclusion of African footballers in the campaign to combat Malaria.

As of 2016, the Federal Ministry of Health has pledged to end Malaria. The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle has pledged continued support and noted the possibility of ending Malaria in Nigeria.

United States

President George W. Bush designated April 25 as Malaria Awareness Day in 2007. He called on Americans to join in eradicating Malaria on the African continent. He described it as a day when “we focus our attention on all who suffer from this terrible disease — especially the millions on the continent of Africa. We remember the millions more who died from this entirely preventable and treatable disease.” He shared the White House’s strategic plan against Malaria, which included efforts to distribute bed nets with the New York-based nonprofit group Malaria No More.

Many former U.S. Presidents have also engaged in fighting Malaria. Former President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Foundation, according to the director Inder Singh, made efforts to distribute anti-malaria drugs to millions in Africa and Asia. 

Other prominent companies, organizations, and celebrities drove initiatives to join the fight against Malaria to commemorate this day. ExxonMobil announced a $3 million “challenge grant” to match the donations dollar by dollar to Malaria No More as a part of the “Idol Gives Back” episode of the American Idol that aired on Malaria Awareness Day. Don Garber, Major League Soccer Commissioner, declared the league will promote malaria awareness and invite bed nets fundraising in April leading up to Malaria Awareness Day. Actress Ashley Judd announced a new initiative, “5 & Alive,” which will focus on the fatal effects of Malaria on children under five. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America initiated their campaign “Malaria Prevention: Deadly Disease. Simple Solution”, collaborating with Malaria No More to obtain $ 10 bed ner donations from all its 4.7 million club members. The movement is not without its critics, such as the African economist Dambisa Moyo, who warned that the short-term benefits of aid, such as mosquito bed nets, can have long-term detrimental effects on the sustainability of African economies. The African entrepreneurs will be thrown out of business when the markets flood with foreign nets.

In addition to uniting global leaders, corporations, and agencies to fight against Malaria, World Malaria Day also provides health organizations, research institutes, and scientists with an occasion to communicate information about the disease, current research status, practical plans, and measures for prevention and cure to the public. This information can be further spread through public educational programs, charity events, social media campaigns, and other community activities. With many countries progressing towards Malaria elimination, this day calls for the timely review and evaluation of the existing practices. This day is a reminder to assess the strategies of the countries that have successfully eliminated Malaria disease by now. Having several commonalities in environmental conditions, vectors, parasites, community behavior, and health & Public infrastructures, India and neighboring South Asian countries can tailor the same measures and strategies to eliminate this terrible but preventable disease. Progress with such cross-learning between able countries can help other poorly managing countries to steer their Malaria eradication programs. 

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