25 April 2008
World Malaria Day
The first ‘World Malaria Day’ was observed on 25 April, 2008 led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and many governments all over the world. The theme for the 2019 World Malaria Day is ‘Zero malaria starts with me’.
Malaria Day Background
In this edition of This Day in History, you can read about the WHO initiative, World Malaria Day and its impact on the world’s health and fight against the deadly disease Malaria. This is part of health issues and international affairs for the IAS exam.
- The ‘Africa Malaria Day’ used to be observed on 25 April from 2011. The World Malaria Day evolved from this observance in order to emphasise the global health impact of this dreaded disease.
- Malaria was responsible for the deaths of almost 445,000 people in 2016 worldwide, as per a report by the WHO.
- Almost 3.3 billion people are at a risk of contracting this dangerous disease in 106 nations.
- Malaria can be prevented by simple measures taken like insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor spraying of insecticides, and not allowing mosquitoes to breed, etc.
- A vaccine for malaria has not yet been formulated. But, it can be cured with prescription medicines, depending upon the case.
- It is most prevalent in Africa, followed by Asia and Latin America. It also affects people in the Middle East and Europe albeit to a much smaller degree.
- The most vulnerable people who are at a greater risk of getting malaria are children less than five years old, pregnant women, infants, HIV/AIDS patients and travellers.
- The symptoms of malaria are fever, headache, flu-like symptoms and vomiting. The malaria parasite (Plasmodium parasites) infects and eliminates red blood cells. The blood carries these parasites to the brain causing cerebral malaria. Pregnant women contracting malaria poses a severe risk of life to the mother, foetus and the new-born.
- The malaria parasite spreads to humans through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito (these are also called the malaria vectors). There are five malaria parasites and out of these, the P falciparum and the P vivax are the most dangerous.
- In India, the National Malaria Control Programmes conducts programs and takes measured to eradicate this disease from India where it is a serious public health issue. Nearly 95% of the population resides in areas endemic to malaria. In 2017, out of 840838 cases of malaria, 103 deaths were reported.
- Unfortunately, most areas in India are prone to malaria except areas that are at a high altitude of 2000-2500 m. States that are at a higher risk of malaria are West Bengal, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, NE states (except for Sikkim), and Gujarat.
- In April 1997, the World Bank assisted India to start the Enhanced Malaria Control Project that specifically targeted tribal populations.
World Malaria Day 2019 theme
‘Zero malaria starts with me’.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.