Though malaria has been eradicated from the United States and Europe, the disease continues to plague many countries, including those in South America, Africa and Asia. As one of the large concerns of the World Health Organization, fighting malaria has come to the forefront of the global health field. Below are 10 facts about malaria that are essential to know, some of which demonstrate why global eradication of the disease is in the best interest of all nations.
1. Malaria is caused by one of four plasmodium protist carried by the female Anopheles mosquito.
2. One of the problems of combating malaria is the threat of drug-resistant plasmodium, particularly in the Southeast Asian Mekong River area.
3. Nearly half of the world’s population — 3.4 billion people — are at risk for contracting malaria in over 106 countries.
4. In 2010, over 91 percent of malarial deaths occurred in Africa.
5. Since 2000, the overall mortality rate has decreased by 42 percent.
6. Despite the eradication of malaria in the United States in the 1950s, three types of malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes are still found in various regions, meaning malaria could recur.
7. Approximately 1,500 cases of malaria are reported annually in the United States. The statistic is mostly comprised of travelers and immigrants.
8. The symptoms of malaria generally appear a week or more after an infected mosquito bite, but without treatment, certain plasmodia can become deadly in less than 24 hours after initial symptoms.
9. The World Health Assembly’s targets for 2015 are to reduce malarial infections by 75 percent. Only 52 countries are on target to reach this goal.
10. The World Health Organization has created a T3 plan for tracking malaria: Test. Treat. Track Initiative.
While these facts about malaria may demonstrate a need for unified effort to combat the disease, awareness of the prevalence of the disease is still somewhat limited. Since it is treatable, though sometimes aggressive, the battle against malaria is crucial to increase life expectancy and eliminate poverty. The multinational cooperation to eliminate the disease just emphasizes the scale of global importance of addressing malaria.
— Kristin Ronzi