Every day more than 1000 people die because of Malaria. It’s appalling how despite years of awareness campaigns, breakthroughs in malaria vaccine, and healthcare policies, malaria is still one of the deadliest diseases.
World malaria day, observed on 25th April each year, is perhaps the right time to take stock of things. What are the lessons we learned from our past? What are the plans we have for the future?
For those who are pretty green to this topic, here is a brief background.
What is Malaria?
Transmitted by mosquitoes, malaria is not only treatable but also a preventable infectious disease. It is the female anopheles mosquitoes that are the carriers of this disease. Once infected, the parasite spreads in the body through the bloodstream affecting the liver. If left untreated, malaria can cause jaundice, kidney failure, and even death.
Regarded as a disease of poverty and inequity, mostly poor women and children are affected by malaria.
World Malaria Day 2020: Zero Malaria Starts With Me
It is estimated that close to USD 6.4 billion will be needed each year to fight malaria. The theme of world malaria day this year is “zero malaria starts with me”. The basic idea of this theme is to make every individual proactive in the fight against this infectious disease. For any visible change to happen, communities must be empowered at the grassroots level. Whenever a campaign is targeted at the grassroots level the ownership has been quite high and results have been positive. At this point, when the Sub-Saharan countries are grappling with the corona pandemic as well – this theme makes a lot more sense.
Robust Healthcare Systems Backed With Sustained Investments
Whether it is covid19 or the global fight against malaria – the one storyline which has emerged is the dire need to invest in healthcare systems that are strong and affordable.
The first goal of any healthcare system should be to build awareness around the disease and provide guidance on how it can be contained. For instance, in the case of malaria, the local healthcare bodies should engage the local communities and engage them in simple actions that will help prevent the spread of the infection. The very theme of this year’s malaria day of zero malaria starts with me is inspired by a pan-African movement that has its roots at the local level. Proactive local communities can easily gain political attention which will, in turn, lead to better healthcare policies, robust health systems, and eventually defeat the spread of malaria.
So to answer the questions raised earlier – the future steps for malaria are:
- Raising awareness at the grassroots level
- Building stronger healthcare mechanisms
- Having sustainable investments in health technology