Date Published: 25 April 2012
25 April 2012 is World Malaria Day
25th April 2012 is World Malaria Day.
According to UNICEF malaria remains the world's largest killer of children. It is responsible for almost 700,000 deaths per year (worldwide, across all age groups). Incidence of malaria is geographically concentrated, with over 90% deaths occurring in Africa, where it is blamed for approx. one in six child deaths i.e. around 16.5% of child deaths. See also malaria in the news.
" It is unacceptable that today more than 1,500 children will die as the result of a mosquito bite," said Mickey Chopra, UNICEF Chief of Health.
" Malaria is preventable and curable, but we must step up our efforts to distribute insecticide-treated nets to those who need them and to strengthen integrated community case management."
Studies have indicated that when there are enough insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) available and children sleeping under an insecticide-treated net every night, child mortality can be reduced by up to 20%. Malaria is also curable provided that it is diagnosed early enough and treated with appropriate anti-malarial treatment. However, unfortunately, many children in Africa continue to die from malaria because they do not sleep under insecticide-treated nets (also referred to as "mosquito nets") and are unable to access life-saving treatment within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Waiting even six hours for treatment can mean life or death to a child sick with malaria.
In support of the UN Secretary General's goal of achieving universal coverage with malaria interventions, UNICEF promotes widespread, free net distributions to the poorest, most remote areas, capitalizing on strategic moments such as routine immunizations and ante-natal check-ups for pregnant women. It is also increasing its efforts in integrated community case management which provides a life-saving package of interventions to ensure children and their families receive effective protection and medications close to home.
It has been estimated that over the last 10 years enough nets have been supplied to meet the needs of approximately 80% of country-stated need in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although this achievement is extremely positive, many of these nets are reaching the end of their useful life and need urgently to be replaced.
Fighting malaria and its main cause (bites from infected mosquitos) not only saves the lives of children, but also provides many other health and economic benefits for affected communities. For example, eliminating malaria reduces the burden on over-stretched health centers and enables communities to lead healthier and more productive lives. Reducing malaria improves the health of pregnant mothers and therefore improves the health of their babies. Controlling malaria can also impact the numbers of people who die of malnutrition because people who are already weakened due to lack of sufficient nutrition are more likely to die if they contract malaria.
According to UNICEF the gains and successes built on strong partnerships and the generous contributions of many donors are extremely fragile. For example, even countries that had already reduced their malaria burdens by up to 50% can quickly see increased cases if aging nets are not replaced.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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