Latest Pakistan News > Islamabad News – World Malaria Day is commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria as globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria.
This year the theme for World Malaria Day is “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria” marks a decisive juncture in the history of malaria control.
World Malaria Day was established in May 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.
The day was established to provide “education and understanding of malaria” and spread information on “year-long intensified implementation of national malaria-control strategies, including community-based activities for malaria prevention and treatment in endemic areas.”
Prior to the establishment of World Malaria Day, Africa Malaria Day was held on April 25. Africa Malaria Day began in 2001, one year after the historic Abuja Declaration was signed by 44 African malaria-endemic countries at the African Summit on Malaria.
Investments in malaria control have created unprecedented momentum and remarkable returns in the past years. In Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third within the last decade; outside of Africa, 35 out of the 53 countries, affected by malaria, have reduced cases by 50% in the same time period.
In countries where access to malaria control interventions has improved most significantly, overall child mortality rates have fallen by approximately 20%.
However, these gains are fragile and will be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for global, regional and national decision-makers and donors.
Despite the current economic climate, development aid needs to continue flowing to malaria control programs to ensure widespread population access to life-saving and cost-effective interventions.
The huge increase in support for malaria control interventions in recent years means there is a reduction in the death rate; where once over a million people died of the disease annually, the figure is now closer to 790,000.
AFP adds: The World Health Organisation heralded major gains Tuesday in the fight against malaria, one of the developing world’s biggest killers, but warned universal access to treatment remains elusive.
“In the past 10 years, increased investment in malaria prevention and control has saved more than a million lives,” the UN organisation’s chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.
“But we are still far from achieving universal access to life-saving malaria interventions.”
The assessment came on the eve of World Malaria Day, designed to shine the light on the mosquito-borne parasite that killed 655,000 people in 2010, including 560,000 children under five.
The WHO says the disease is the fifth-biggest killer in low-income countries.
But cheaper, easier testing, increased funding and growing use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets that protect people while they sleep have saved more than a million lives in the past decade, the WHO said.
Malaria has been eliminated in Armenia, Morocco and Turkmenistan, while Georgia and Iraq had no new cases in 2010, Richard Cibulskis, a doctor with the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, told a press conference in Geneva.
Of the 99 countries where malaria currently exists, eradicating the disease is feasible in 34, said Andrea Bossman, another doctor with the WHO’s malaria programme.
In others, though, the picture is less rosy.
“For the hard-to-reach areas, especially the central areas of Africa with stable malaria transmission, we don’t have yet the tools available today to completely interrupt transmission,” Bossman said.
The WHO announced a new programme called T3 — test, treat, track — whose goal is to test every suspected malaria case worldwide, treat every confirmed case with multi-drug therapies centred on the drug artemisinin, and closely monitor the disease to improve health officials’ response.