Malaria is an infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites from the Plasmodium family that can be transmitted by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito or by a contaminated needle or transfusion. It is estimated that 40 percent of the world’s population lives in malaria-risk areas, out of which an estimated 300 to 600 million people suffer from malaria each year. According to World Health Organization (WHO) report, more than 429,000 people lost their lives to the mosquito-borne illness in 2015, and hundreds of millions get sick with a malaria infection every year. For families with young children, this is bad news because malaria is the major killer of children—killing about one child every 30-seconds, about 3,000 children every day. While malaria is found in most tropical parts of the world, about 90 per cent of malaria cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
There is hope that in no distant future, malaria will be under control, like its cousin--smallpox. The encouraging report from WHO is that from 2000 to 2015, there was a 62% reduction in malaria deaths, and a 41% reduction in the number of cases. Thanks to the concerted effort among international organizations, philanthropists, governments to fight this disease, including better mosquito control and disease awareness, as well as sustained effort to get the right medicine to the right populations.
There is good news in the air. The WHO has finally come out with malaria vaccine intended to help contain this leading killer of pregnant mothers and children. The vaccine has undergone vigorous testing to ascertain its safety and efficacy when administered on young African children who are vulnerable to the mosquito-transmitted disease. An estimated 10,000 children from seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa have received the vaccine during Phase-Three clinical trials carried out from 2009 to 2014, with satisfactory results. The rollout of the vaccine is planned for 2018. Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been selected for the pilot phase of the malaria vaccine implementation by WHO.
This is good news worth sharing. Loosing children and young adults to killer diseases, such as, AIDS and malaria has contributed to the slow pace of economic development in Africa. As you read this newsflash, watch out for development in this area and share with others. Individuals can support the fight against malaria through financial contribution and, more importantly, regular dissemination or sharing of wellness self-help tips with our parents and siblings in the villages—ourroot.