The term ‘malaria’ comes from the medieval Italian ‘mala aria’ meaning ‘bad air’. The term was coined at a time before the mosquito had been identified as the carrier of the parasite. (Worldmapper)
April 25 is World Malaria Day which raises awareness for a still prevalent disease. While some significant efforts could be made to come closer towards the goal of eradicating Malaria-related deaths until 2015, still an estimated 800,000 people die every year from the disease according to the World Malaria Report 2010. According to UNICEF, Malaria is the third single biggest killer of Children globally, and about 90% of these deaths occur in Africa. One in six of the
In collaboration with UNICEF I have worked on an updated version of the Worldmapper Malaria Death map, using the WHO report and UNICEF figures to visualise the distribution of Malaria-related deaths. The figures were also added to the Guardian Datastore which also has more information about Malaria cases in general and the collection of such data.
The resulting map shows the distribution of recorded deaths that were attributed to Malaria, and it shows the ongoing dominance of Malaria being a lethal problem on the African continent:
The UNICEF Press Release adds this information:
Malaria is both preventable and curable. Studies have shown that when a community’s children sleep every night under insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), overall child mortality can be reduced by up to 20 per cent.
Yet hundreds of thousands of children, primarily in Africa, will perish because of lack of access to ITNs and to life-saving treatment within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Waiting even six hours for treatment can mean life or death for a sick child.
Between 2004 and 2010, more than 400 million nets were delivered to malaria-endemic countries, with 290 million delivered since 2008 alone. These 290 million nets are enough to cover approximately 80 per cent of ‘country-stated net need‘ across Africa.
These efforts have led to real progress. Global malaria deaths dropped by 20 per cent between 2000 and 2009 — statistics that represent many thousands of individual children’s lives.
Countries that have systematically scaled up malaria prevention are showing significant reductions in the malaria burden at health facilities. Endemic settings such as Eritrea, Madagascar, São Tomé and Principe, Zambia and Zanzibar have shown reductions of more than 50 per cent in either confirmed malaria cases or malaria admissions and deaths.
Fighting malaria not only saves children’s lives, but also yields many other health and economic benefits. For example, eliminating malaria eases the burden on over-stretched health centers. Reducing malaria improves the health of pregnant mothers and therefore the health of their babies. Controlling malaria can also reduce deaths due to malnutrition, as those already weakened are more likely to die if they contract the disease.
“We cannot leave some children exposed to malaria and other children safe,” said Lake. “Whether it is insecticide-treated nets, proper diagnosis, or effective treatment, the challenge is to provide protection and care to every single child who is at risk.”