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World Malaria Day

Updated: 7 days ago

April 25th marks World Malaria Day, which was instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007. This internationally recognised day offers an opportunity to reflect on global efforts to control malaria. Although great progress has been made, it's scarcely believable that this treatable disease takes a child's life every two minutes, and more than half the world is still at risk of contracting this disease. 94% of all malaria cases occur in the WHO African Region. Sadly, malaria strikes the most vulnerable - specifically, pregnant women, infants, young children, and refugees.



So what can be done to better control the spread of Malaria? 


Continuous Active Intervention

Many countries have made significant progress in controlling malaria via various measures, including the use of insecticides and mosquito nets. However, paradoxically, a successful program leads to the disease becoming invisible, which increases the risk that funds will be withdrawn and future operations will take place in a disorganised fashion. 


Research reviewing malaria resurgence in the Malaria Journal confirms this. The review states: “Historical failures to maintain gains against the disease underscore the fragility of these successes.” In the absence of active intervention, malaria will return. 


No Short-Term Thinking

To control the spread of malaria, the focus should not only be about short-term burden reduction; instead, a long-term, immunisation-like program of routine activities needs to be planned and budgeted for, even if the present burden of disease has declined. 


Here are three pillars of a long-term program:


Surveillance and Predictive Modelling

Continuous surveillance is vital in conjunction with predictive modelling and AI to see where malaria hotspots are located. A recent study by researchers from South Africa and Japan showed the potential of using machine learning to forecast outbreaks of malaria in Limpopo, South Africa with 80% accuracy and up to 9 months in advance by analysing large volumes of sea surface temperature variations of the western Pacific Ocean and tropical Indian Ocean, alongside malaria case count data. 


Ongoing Funding and Support

This is essential for sustaining eradication efforts.


Prevention of Re-establishment (POR) Plan

This plan aims at preventing the resurgence or re-establish of malaria transmission in areas where it has been successfully controlled or eliminated via strategies such as surveillance and monitoring, vector control (including indoor residual spraying, insecticide-treated bed nets, larval control, etc.), case management, community engagement, cross-border collaboration, and research and innovation. 


To conclude, World Malaria Day presents us with an opportunity for increasing awareness about this old and deadly disease. By doing this, we can save millions of lives worldwide while building healthier communities. 


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