TODAY -

'Zero malaria should start with me'

Ranjan K Baruah *



Malaria is one of the common diseases in many parts of the worlds. Fight against malaria is going on in many countries especially developing and poor countires. According to World Health Organisation's latest World malaria report, no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths in 2017, at 435 000, remained virtually unchanged over the previous year.

Urgent action is needed to get the global response to malaria back on track and ownership of the challenge lies in the hands of countries most affected by malaria.

On World Malaria Day 2019, WHO joins the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the African Union Commission and other partner organizations in promoting "Zero malaria starts with me,," a grassroots campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 87 countries and the estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 435 000 in 2017. Total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated US$ 3.1 billion in 2017. Contributions from governments of endemic countries amounted to US$ 900 million, representing 28% of total funding.

We are aware that malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called "malaria vectors." Malaria is an acute febrile illness but preventable and also curable. In a non-immune individual, symptoms usually appear 1015 days after the infective mosquito bite.

The first symptoms fever, headache, and chills may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.

Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria. In adults, multi-organ failure is also frequent. In malaria endemic areas, people may develop partial immunity, allowing asymptomatic infections to occur.

Some population groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria, and developing severe disease, than others. These include infants, children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and patients with HIV/AIDS, as well as non-immune migrants, mobile populations and travellers.

Transmission also depends on climatic conditions that may affect the number and survival of mosquitoes, such as rainfall patterns, temperature and humidity. Human immunity is another important factor, especially among adults in areas of moderate or intense transmission conditions.

Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission. If coverage of vector control interventions within a specific area is high enough, then a measure of protection will be conferred across the community. WHO recommends protection for all people at risk of malaria with effective malaria vector control.

In his message Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO said that "globally, the world has made incredible progress against malaria. But we are still too far from the end point we seek: a world free of malaria. Every year, the global tally of new malaria cases exceeds 200 million.

And every 2 minutes, a child dies from this preventable and treatable disease. The damage inflicted extends far beyond loss of life: malaria takes a heavy toll on health systems, sapping productivity and eroding economic growth.

Ultimately, investing in universal health care is the best way to ensure that all communities have access to the services they need to beat malaria. Individual and community empowerment through grassroots initiatives like "Zero malaria starts with me" can also play a critical role in driving progress".

There are many initiatives around the world by different governments and other organisations. As this disease is curable and preventable we must make people aware and make them take action to fight back malaria.

Apart from organisations like WHO, individuals may also contribute in eradication of malaria from our region and nation. As this year's campaign is focus on zero malaria starts with me, so, let us make sure that we shall make our place zero malaria and we shall take up all action to make zero malaria.

(With direct inputs from WHO publication )


* Ranjan K Baruah wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at bkranjan(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 26 2019.



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