Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people every year and has the second most impact on world health right after tuberculosis. The infection disease is caused by a parasite and transmitted by mosquitoes. There are five different types of the Plasmodium parasite and are native to Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Work The World, the healthcare placement specialist for students worldwide, have posed the question of whether we are capable of having a world without malaria. With World Malaria Day coming on April 25, now is the perfect time to find out. Sixty-two countries have been able to eliminate the disease so what's standing in the way for the rest of the world?
There are over 400 different types of species of mosquitoes in the world, although only 30 of them transmit Plasmodium falciparum - the malaria parasite. It is enough to cause serious damage. In 2013 alone, there were 198 million cases of malaria reported which resulted in over 584,000 deaths worldwide. Africa is the most affected by Malaria -- 90% of the deaths mentioned above occurred in Africa and 430,000 of those were under the age of five. It's hard to process that the number of deaths in children is the equivalent to 1 child dying every minute from the disease. About 78% of the deaths from Malaria in 2013 were just from children under the age of 5- those who are malnourished are most at risk. Outside of Africa, the risks are still extreme -- with 2.4 billion people under threat.
But there is some good news -- progress is being made. According to the WHO, there has been a 47% decrease in the worldwide death rate between 2000 and 2013, which is the equivalent to around 4.2 million lives. There has been a dramatic 53% decrease in the death rate of children under 5 since 2000. Armenia, Morocco, Turkmenistan and the UAE have been able to be certified as free of Malaria since 2007.
So what are the solutions? How can we prevent malaria?
Mosquito nets can reduce child mortality rates by around 20%. A mosquito net will usually remain effective for between 3 to 5 years. They are pretty cost-effective too (at around $10).
Another suitable solution to help prevent Malaria is the use of indoor residual spraying. IRS can kill mosquitoes that come into contact with any surfaces that have been treated and once sprayed; the area will be effective for up to 6 months.
Having accessible diagnostic tests would help to treat people at a rapider pace and would also help reduce treatment costs. The results from the appropriate blood tests would take around 30 minutes to obtain.
Currently, 19 countries are the in pre-elimination stages of malaria control and once successful, they will able to save 74 million people from malaria. The cost of achieving a world free from malaria would be expensive, at over $5 billion, but it's definitely possible.
By spreading the message and with coverage from events like World Malaria Day, we can continue to try and achieve a universal elimination of the disease for good. By donating to the appropriate charities and fundraising, we can also help to speed up the process. Every little bit really does help - especially considering the fact that $10 can do so much to help save one life.