In the United States, the summer months often mean one thing: mosquito season. With their annoying buzzing and itchy bites, mosquitos are definitely a nuisance, but they are not a life-threatening issue.
Mosquitos and Malaria
For almost half of the world’s population, however, mosquito season means something entirely different: malaria. Malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitos in many parts of the world is a dangerous and often life-threatening problem. Becoming familiar with the top 14 facts about malaria is crucial to the understanding of the disease and its implications.
Although entirely preventable and treatable, malaria is a fear that continues to persist in the 21st Century for billions of people. Often rampant among the poorest countries of the world, here are the top 14 facts about malaria and what is being done to fight the disease.
Top 14 Facts About Malaria
- Malaria is caused by five different parasites species and is transmitted through bites from infected mosquitos. One of the types of mosquitos in question is Anopheles, which are mosquitos bred in areas of clean, unpolluted water such as swamps, the edges of rivers or temporary rain puddles.
- Children under five and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to malaria. Of the deaths that occur from malaria, 70 percent of them are among children under the age of five. This is because children, in particular, are prone to infection and illness.
- Although it was eliminated from the United States in the early 1950s, mosquitos carrying malaria are found on every continent except Antarctica. In places where the disease has been eliminated, re-introduction of the disease is still a possibility.
- Malaria mortality rates are falling. Since 2010, global malaria mortality rates have fallen by approximately 29 percent and 35 percent among the age group of children under five.
- Insecticide-treated bed nets have been shown to reduce malaria illness. Bed nets are barriers put around people to prevent mosquitos during sleep. Bill Gates is an avid supporter of eliminating malaria and works with his charity to provide netting to countries where the risk of malaria is high.
- Two billion people remain at risk of malaria, roughly half of the world’s population.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has an extremely high malaria presence. It is estimated that 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in this region.
- Cooperation among organizations working to fight malaria has proven to be successful. Addressing malaria is at the forefront of the international community’s thoughts with support from the United Nations, the World Bank, and a variety of other non-governmental organizations. Reducing the world’s burden of malaria was one of the first eight Millennium Development Goals introduced by the United Nations.
- Malaria is treatable if caught quickly and appropriately. Early diagnosis of the disease is key to treating it, and catching the disease quickly also helps reduce the transmission of malaria.
- Indoor residual spraying is another way countries are fighting malaria. This method works by spraying insecticide indoors and is currently effective for 3 to 6 months.
- Malaria impedes economic development in countries where it is extremely prevalent. In some African countries, GDP falls by 1.3 percent per year due to malaria’s economic consequences. Malaria also discourages investment from outside countries and impairs many children’s ability to go to school.
- The World Bank is very dedicated to controlling malaria. In previous years, the organization has contributed nearly $1 billion to the cause.
- Malaria-related deaths have decreased by 50 percent since the disease’s peak in the early 2000s.
- In 2018, the World Health Organization plans to pilot a project of a first-generation malaria vaccine. The project will be targeted in sub-Saharan Africa.
Road to Improvement
The universal elimination of malaria is possible in the 21st Century. The cooperation, funding and persistence to find solutions to the disease exist in ways never before thought possible.
– Sonja Flancher