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HST Blog

May 21
World Malaria Day, 25 April 2024, “Accelerating the fight against malaria for a more equitable world”

​By Antoinette Stafford Cloete (Health Systems Trust Communications Manager)

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World Malaria Day was instituted at the World Health Assembly in 2007 and draws attention to the necessity of ongoing financial support as well as a genuine political commitment to the prevention and control of malaria.

Progress with regards to decreasing the incidence or prevalence of malaria with most cases (94%) found in the Africa region has been sub-optimal. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there were approximately 608 000 deaths caused by malaria in 2022 and more than 249 million new cases. It is an astounding number for one geographical area. The WHO for the African Region argues that this threat to human life is fuelled by a brutal cycle of inequity and a long list of social determinants related to poverty. The most vulnerable in the region are impacted: newborns, children younger than five years of age, expectant mothers, internally displaced people, refugees and migrants all bear the brunt of the disease.

Rural areas are affected to a greater extent than urban settings due to a lack of ready access to health services, including mobile clinics. A lack of poor treatment and prevention roll out in the form of health promotion and health education efforts to assist people with better understanding the causes, effects and preventive measures is also a contributing factor. Many people are unable to obtain the necessary protective measures such as mosquito nets and repellent as a starting point. Non-governmental organisations like Goodbye Malaria, funded by the Global fund, attempts to close the gap that government cannot fill by running awareness programmes on malaria and making the preventive material mentioned more readily available for consumers under the banner "Save a life in your sleep". It is a community development effort to promote small business and job-creation efforts that aims to create employment around sorely needed life-saving products, saving lives and alleviating poverty in the process in South Africa, Eswatini and Mozambique.

Efforts to roll back malaria were already in place in 1998 when four of the biggest health orgnisations in the world, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), joined forces to launch a campaign to fight malaria. The programme, "Roll Back Malaria", sought to reduce the human suffering and economic losses due to one of the world's costliest diseases.

The then WHO Director-General, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, said that, "Malaria is the number one health priority of people and leaders in affected communities and countries, but their voices have not been heard … The human suffering is unacceptable and so is the economic burden and impediment to progress. Africa and other regions with malaria are responding and we must answer their call".

Almost three decades have passed since that statement and too many lives are still being lost to malaria because levels of political commitment, private sector engagement (the exception would be the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and much-needed community involvement are still not optimal.

For more information:

The Malaria Consortium

Speak Up Africa

 

 

 

 

 



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