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Ending Malaria

What Needs to be Done?

There are many successful humanitarian projects in the field of global health, such as the prevention and treatment of malaria, despite the challenges faced on the way.

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World Malaria Day Theme

Every year, WHO and its partners unite around a common World Malaria Day theme. The theme for the 2016 edition was “End malaria for good.” This reflects the vision of a malaria-free world. The strategy formed to achieve this goal aims to dramatically lower the global impact of malaria over the next 15 years. It also plans to reduce the rate of new malaria cases by at least 90%, reduce death rates by at least 90%, eliminate malaria in at least 35 countries and prevent a resurgence of malaria disease in all malaria-free countries.

Defeating Malaria remains a challenge

While great strides are made regarding ending malaria, significant challenges remain. About 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of getting infected with malaria disease. Just in 2015, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria disease and 438,000 deaths, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Millions of people are still not accessing the services necessary for the prevention and treatment of malaria.

Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria causes signs that typically include fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headaches. Also, these symptoms can be dangerous especially for pregnant women and young children who are experiencing the disease for the first time. Severe cases can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma or even death. The condition is widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions around the equator. Malaria doesn’t only have an enormous impact on global health; it’s also commonly associated with poverty and has a significant adverse effect on economic development. Also, losing the ability to work and high health care costs result in an estimated loss of US$12 billion a year.

What we need to do

Prevention and control

Prevention of malaria by compassionate organizations and the local population can aim at either:

  • Preventing infection, by avoiding bites by parasite-carrying mosquitoes through the use of mosquito nets, insecticides and destroying mosquito breeding grounds.
  • It is preventing the disease, by using antimalarial drugs. The drugs do not prevent initial infection through a mosquito bite, but they prevent the development of malaria parasites in the blood, which are the forms that cause disease. This type of prevention is also called “suppression.”

Treatment

Fortunately, malaria is an entirely preventable and therefore a treatable disease. The primary objective of treatment must be to ensure rapid and above all, complete elimination of the parasite which causes malaria disease to prevent progression of uncomplicated malaria to severe illness or death. This isn’t easy to achieve. The malaria parasite has begun to develop resistance to currently available drugs, and these resistant strains will spread. Many compassionate organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are investing in the development of new tools including medicines and strategies to prevent or delay resistance.

Malaria; everything you need to know

Understanding this disease is an essential part of the global health and humanitarian community for the reason that malaria disease affects millions of people annually. Therefore it is vital to continue to take a stand against this disease and help people all around the world. If this article was of interest, you might also be interested in other items on this disease; ‘everything you need to know about malaria disease.’

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