Malaria disease is one of the worst public health crises India has ever faced
There are around four hundred species of Anopheles mosquitoes, out of which only 30 are potential carriers of malaria parasites
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
World Malaria Day is observed globally every year on 25th April, to escalate global efforts for controlling malaria epidemic. Malaria is a mosquito borne infectious disease affecting both humans and animals, causing millions of deaths annually.
The focus of the event is to highlight the need to maintain the efforts towards elimination of malaria and seek commitment from political parties and other stake holders. Despite the efforts of global community, malaria epidemic is far from being completely eradicated with a gradual increase in the number of affected and dead, every year. It is estimated that every two minutes a child dies due to malaria, across the globe. Malaria has also severe consequences on the health and economy of a nation.
Observance of the World Malaria Day reignites the resolve of governments and general public to fight malaria and seek its elimination. It also helps the campaigns in garnering technical, logistical and financial support to push forward the fight against malaria.
The first symptoms of malaria appear within ten to fifteen days of getting bitten by an infected mosquito. Initial symptoms include high fever, chills, weakness and headache. When untreated, the symptoms can escalate causing serious illnesses, leading to death.
The most important method of preventing malaria is by controlling the spread of its carriers, that is Anopheles mosquitoes.
There are around four hundred species of Anopheles mosquitoes, out of which only 30 are potential carriers of malaria parasites.
Malaria disease is one of the worst public health crises the country has ever faced, endangering one in every six Indians. Death can occur in as little as three days if an FP infection is not properly treated. Nearly 50,000 people die in the country every year due to complications of the disease. While travelling to a malaria endemic zone, anti-malarial tablets may be prescribed to prevent contracting malaria. Immediate diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and death.
Every time a case of malaria is reported, a mapping exercise is undertaken to intensively fog and spray the pesticides in all surrounding areas. Malaria is preventable as well as treatable, yet the disease claims nearly half a million lives each year. The deaths are mainly attributed to not taking preventive measures and delayed diagnosis. People in lower economic class and remote areas; don’t understand the risk of malaria, unless they get infected.
Not using mosquito nets or insecticides only escalates the spread of disease. Though an infectious disease, whether a person contracts malaria or not, also depends substantially on how clean the surrounding environments are. One of the major causes of mosquito breeding is water stagnation. Its rather shocking that Indians having knowledge about the excellent benefits of Neem and cowdung, has not done any research towards the same, in the prevention of malaria.
According to the last World Malaria Report released on 19th November 2018, an estimated 219 million cases of malaria have been reported in the preceding year, causing nearly half a million deaths globally. African countries were the most affected, by being home to 92% of the global malaria cases and 93% of causalities due to malaria.
Though, India accounts for only 4% of total malaria cases reported globally, unfortunately it also accounts for 52% of the total malaria deaths caused outside the African region. India has set a target of eradicating malaria by the year 2030.
Despite the commendable efforts by the World Health Organization, respective governments and other relevant bodies in fighting malaria, the global campaign against malaria is facing an acute financial crunch. Eliminating malaria is, and should be the top priority. Grand pronouncements are meaningless as long as manipulated data twist our knowledge and bad governance impedes genuine attempts to fight the disease
(The writer is based in Ahmadabad)