In commemoration of the World Malaria Day, we have put together a number of facts on one of humanity’s oldest plague and killer, Malaria. With over half of the world’s population (Some 3.4 billion people in 106 countries and territories) at risk of it, Malaria is a serious health concern for nations and the world in general. The theme of the World Malaria Day this year is #BeatMalaria – we hope to end the scourge of malaria by the year 2030.
Here are 11 facts malaria you may not know:
- Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites and is spread by bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes.
- There are 5 Plasmodium parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species – P. falciparum and P. vivax – pose the greatest threat.
- In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 445 000 malaria deaths. Over 303 000 of those victims were African children under age five (5).
- Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths.
- Rising temperatures and increased rainfall and humidity due to global warming will increase the range and number of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Thus, hundreds of millions more people will be at risk of contracting malaria in the coming decades.
- Young children, pregnant women and non-immune travellers from malaria-free areas are the most vulnerable group and infections are worse when they are affected. A child dies of malaria every 2 minutes.
- Malaria causes spontaneous abortions, premature delivery, stillbirths and growth retardation in foetuses. It is also a significant cause of maternal mortality, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, it is recommended for pregnant women living in areas of moderate to high transmission to get preventive treatment at each scheduled antenatal visit after the first trimester.
- Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are imperative in preventing malaria deaths. Access to diagnostic testing and treatment has reduced the mortality due to malaria by 29% globally since 2010.
- Insecticide-treated nets are especially important for at risk populations. Indoors spraying is also key in preventing transmission as mosquitoes hiding in inaccessible corners in homes can be eliminated.
- Drug resistance is a growing problem drug resistance in malaria treatment. The core compound in the malaria combination drugs recommended by WHO – Artemisinin has been noted in South-East Asia. Poor drug compliance and drug abuse are key factors in drug resistance.
- Vaccines that provide protection against malaria are already in the works and their introduction may lead to a further decline in deaths due to malaria.