Malaria is arguably the most severe vector-borne public health challenge facing Africa and many other regions of the world. Each year, malaria is responsible for an estimated 435,000 deaths. Children and pregnant women are particularly at risk.
Today no one has to die from malaria
According to the World Health Organization, over 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa, mostly among children under five years of age. Yet malaria is preventable and treatable. Every life lost is needless. The vision of the WHO’s Global Malaria Program is a world free from malaria. The goal is to reduce deaths from malaria in 2030 by more than 90% compared to 2015.
Malaria: The Facts
In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria and 435,000 deaths. In Africa, a child dies from malaria every two minutes, and around 61% of all malaria deaths are in this age group. Between 2010 and 2017, malaria cases fell by 18% and deaths by 29%. An estimated 6.8 million people's lives have been saved since 2001, mostly children under five. But progress has stalled - the 10 highest burden countries in Africa reported increases in cases of malaria in 2017.
Beyond the health statistics, malaria affects the development, productivity and economic well-being of communities where this disease is rampant. It disproportionately affects poor people who cannot afford treatment or have limited access to health care, trapping families and communities in a downward spiral of poverty. According to the World Health Organization, malaria can decrease gross domestic product by as much as 1.3% in countries with high disease rates.
Almost half of the world's population is at risk. Most malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Asia, Latin America, and to a lesser extent the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected. In 2017, malaria was present in 90 countries and territories.
Malaria is an acute febrile illness. Symptoms appear seven days or more (usually 10–15 days) after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms – fever, headache, chills and vomiting – may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness often leading to death. Children in endemic areas with severe disease frequently develop one or more of the following syndromic presentations: severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria. In adults, multi-organ involvement is also frequent.
- Long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), like BASF’s Interceptor® nets, are the preferred form of insecticide treated nets for public health distribution programs. WHO recommends universal vector control coverage, and in most places, the most cost effective way to achieve this is through provision of LLINs, so that everyone in high transmission areas sleeps under a LLIN every night. From 2015-2017, a cumulative total of more than 600 million insecticide-treated bednets were delivered to malaria endemic countries:
- Indoor residual spraying (IRS) with insecticides such as Fendona® from BASF, is the most powerful way to rapidly reduce malaria transmission. Its full potential is realized when at least 80% of houses in targeted areas are sprayed. Indoor spraying is effective for 3–6 months.
Vector control is the primary public health intervention for reducing malaria transmission at the community level. It is the only intervention that can reduce malaria transmission from very high levels to close to zero. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two forms of effective vector control for a wide range of circumstances. These are:
Mosquito control is being strengthened in many areas, but there are significant challenges, including an increasing mosquito resistance to insecticides, including DDT and pyrethroids, particularly in Africa. The development of new, alternative insecticides is an expensive and long-term endeavour. In 2017, BASF launched a new generation of innovative, resistance-beating products to combat this growing problem.
Source: World Health Organization