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World Malaria Day: Averting a Health Crisis

Every April 25, World Malaria Day addresses the ongoing threat of malaria, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives annually. Led by the World Health Organization, this day is a vital platform to share the latest information and strategies to end malaria. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: April - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of World Malaria Day

red blood cell infected with malaria
Photo by NIAID on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

In 2001, African governments established Africa Malaria Day, inspiring the global version. Years later, World Malaria Day started during the 60th session of the World Health Assembly in May 2007 as a response from member states to understand malaria.

The aim was to streamline efforts to control this life-threatening disease, emphasizing the vital role of political commitment and continuous investment in prevention and control. 

In line with the cause, the World Malaria Report, a yearly publication that updates the global progress of malaria control and elimination, coincides with the event. 

In 2015, the United Nations set an ambitious target to cut malaria incidence and mortality rates by at least 90% by 2030. Their relentless efforts have brought us closer to a malaria-free world.

Since its establishment, it has devised a new theme each year, shifting the spotlight onto different aspects of the disease. In 2023, the theme was “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement.” This year’s World Malaria Day objectives were to showcase the world’s successes in controlling malaria.

The Cause and Its Challenges

anophele mosquito
Photo from Picryl.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Despite being a treatable disease, malaria continues to be a global health crisis and a major cause of mortality and morbidity, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In 2021, an estimated 247 million cases worldwide, and 95% occurred in Africa. In the same year, malaria deaths totaled 619,000, and unfortunately, most of them were children. Numbers have declined over the years, with 2 billion cases and 11.7 million deaths prevented from 2000 to 2021.

The disease affects the impoverished, disadvantaged, and remote rural communities where access to clean water and sanitation is scarce. Many regions where malaria is endemic still struggle to access the necessary tools and interventions. The latest malaria report declared a funding gap to combat it at2 $3.8 billion in 2021.

The fight against malaria is further complicated by the emergence of drug-resistant strains in Southeast Asia, which threatens the effectiveness of existing antimalarial treatments. 

Climate change and unplanned urbanization have also contributed to the spread of malaria to areas previously untouched by it.

Related read: Mosquito Facts.

Efforts and Initiatives

The WHO has a vital role in this fight by providing practical assistance to countries in need, monitoring disease trends, and conducting crucial research. 

One of their noteworthy initiatives is the "High burden to high impact" response launched in 2018. This approach focuses on controlling the disease in the areas where it is most prevalent. It addressed malaria in 11 countries, accounting for nearly 70% of malaria cases globally.

Another critical player in the fight against malaria is the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, established by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, and the World Bank in 1998. Their objective is to reduce the impact of malaria through a coordinated global response, covering all aspects, from prevention to treatment. 

Alongside these international organizations, numerous non-profits such as Malaria No More are making a significant contribution by raising public awareness, providing essential resources, and educating families in Africa. 

In addition to conventional methods, innovation should help tackle malaria, such as the malaria vaccines developed by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).  The cutting-edge science receives Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funding. 

At the grassroots level, campaigns like Nothing But Nets and Zero Malaria Starts with Me showcase the power of community action, encouraging everyone to participate in the fight against malaria1.

How to Get Involved and Support World Malaria Day

sleeping inside mosquito net to avoid malaria
Photo by Chris Clogg on Flickr (Public Domain).
  • Read about malaria from the vast online resources and spread the word to enlighten others. 
  • Use social media platforms to share valuable resources, intriguing facts, or gripping stories about malaria. Consistent posts about malaria's effects and how to prevent it can lead to a broader conversation.
  • Learn and share tips on how to reduce the risk of malaria, such as using nets when sleeping, adding screens on openings, spraying mosquito repellants, wearing long clothes, and more.
  • Finally, volunteering and fundraising are also effective ways to contribute to the fight against malaria. 
  • Volunteer your time or expertise with numerous health organizations battling malaria on the frontlines. 
  • Donate or attend fundraising events to fuel research, bolster preventative measures, or provide life-saving treatment to those in need.

Conclusion

World Malaria Day is an annual reminder of the widespread impact of malaria on millions of people around the world, especially in resource-limited regions. Despite our progress, the fight against it is still ongoing. Global efforts to combat malaria through research and collaboration are crucial now more than ever. 

We must raise awareness in communities, advocate for impactful policy changes, and support organizations working tirelessly to eradicate this disease. 

World Malaria Day FAQs

1. What is World Malaria Day?

It is an annual event observed on April 25th to raise awareness about malaria, its prevention, and control.

2. How is malaria transmitted?

It is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

3. What are the common symptoms?

Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and nausea.

4. Is it preventable?

To prevent malaria, you can use insecticide-treated bed nets, insect repellents, and antimalarial medication.

5. How can I contribute to the fight against malaria?

You can support organizations working on malaria prevention and control, raising awareness about this deadly disease, and participating in initiatives like World Malaria Day.

1

World Health Organization. (2018). High burden to high impact: a targeted malaria response. World Health Organization.

2

World Health Organization. (2022). World malaria report 2022.

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Mario Yordanov on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).
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