Wanted: Concerted global effort to reduce malaria deaths

25Apr 2019
The Guardian
Wanted: Concerted global effort to reduce malaria deaths

World Malaria Day (WMD)   is an international observance commemorated every year on 25 April and recognises global efforts to control malaria. Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria.

In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children.  Asia, Latin America, and to a lesser extent the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected.


World Malaria Day sprung out of the efforts taking place across the African continent to commemorate Africa Malaria Day. WMD is one of eight official global public health campaigns currently marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunisation Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day and World AIDS Day.  

According to the most recent World Malaria Report, the global tally of malaria reached 429,000 malaria deaths and 212 million new cases in 2015. The rate of new malaria cases fell by 21 per cent globally between 2010 and 2015, and malaria death rates fell by 29 per cent in the same period. In sub-Saharan Africa, case incidence and death rates fell by 21 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively.

World Malaria Day was established in May 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, WHO's decision-making body. 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 WMD, 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 malaria-endemic countries at the African Summit on Malaria.  

World Malaria Day allows for corporations (such as ExxonMobil ), multinational organisations (such as Malaria No More ) and grassroots organisations (such as Mosquitoes Suck Tour ) globally to work together to bring awareness to malaria and advocate for policy changes.  

Tanzania has the third largest population at risk of malaria in Africa: over 90 per cent of population live in areas where there is malaria.   Fortunately, malaria cases have dropped significantly over the last decade.


Tanzania has the third largest population at risk of malaria in Africa: over 90 per cent of population live in areas where there is malaria. Each year, 10 to 12 million people contract malaria in Tanzania and 80,000 die from the disease, most of them of them children. In the last years, the number of children dying from malaria has halved.


However, change of climate and extensive movement of people has complicated the fight as mosquitoes are now found in places previously free of malaria.

Malaria is a disease transmitted by a mosquito. The mosquito bite introduces parasites from the mosquito’s saliva into a person’s blood. Then, parasites travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce. Only some mosquitoes carry malaria. The ones that do are called “Anopheles”. They bite at dusk and during the night. Mosquitoes must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person.

Malaria is not transmitted from person to person, except during pregnancy from mother to child.

People exposed to malaria develop partial immunity, but no one becomes fully immune to malaria. Also, this partial immunity can disappear over the years of you live in areas where there are no malaria.

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