World Malaria Day is marked annually on 25th April. This year’s theme is ‘Ready To Beat Malaria’. According to the World Health Organisation, “This theme underscores the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community in uniting around the common goal of a world free of malaria.”
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called malaria vectors. According to the World Malaria Report released in November 2017, there were 216 million malaria cases worldwide in 2016 and 445,000 malaria deaths worldwide in the same year. 90% of the malaria cases and 91% of the malaria deaths were in Africa.
Prevention of malaria involves vector control. This can be done through use of insecticide treated mosquito nets, indoor spraying with residual insecticides and use of antimalarial drugs especially for travellers.
There is a vaccine available. According to WHO, “RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) is the world’s first malaria vaccine that has been shown to provide partial protection against malaria in young children. The vaccine acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. RTS,S is the first, and to date, the only vaccine to show a protective effect against malaria among young children in a Phase 3 trial. Beginning in 2018, it will be the first malaria vaccine provided to young children through routine immunization programmes. Ghana, Kenya and Malawi will introduce RTS,S in selected areas.”
At the Malaria Summit in London held on 18th April 2018, 53 Commonwealth nations answered the call to take action towards halving malaria in the Commonwealth by 2023. Financial, political and scientific commitments totaling $4.1 billion were made at the summit.
At the summit, Kenya committed to beat malaria through achieving universal health care as part of the country’s ‘4 pillar agenda’. Kenya will, “ prioritise efforts to eliminate malaria across the country by 2030, including ensuring at least 80% of people living in malaria risk areas are using appropriate malaria preventive interventions and that all malaria cases are treated in accordance to the National Malaria Treatment Guidelines.”
Together let’s get #ReadyToBeatMalaria.