Make ‘End Malaria for Good' a shared reality
Malaria still continues to harm or end many lives in Laos and elsewhere each year even though the disease is preventable.
People around the World mark World Malaria Day on April 25 annually to encourage the public to undertake preventive measures on malaria by sleeping under insecticide-treated nets and use of appropriate insecticides.
World Malaria Day is also an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.
Sleepign in insecticide-treated nets help malaria prevention.
This year's global theme for World Malaria Day is 'End Malaria for Good'.
In the lead-up to 25 April, WHO is shining a spotlight on prevention, a critical strategy for reducing the toll of a disease that continues to kill more than 400,000 people annually.
Since 2000, malaria prevention has played an important role in reducing cases and deaths, primarily through the scale up of insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying with insecticides.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease is heavily concentrated, a greater share of the population is sleeping under insecticide-treated nets.
In 2015, an estimated 53 percent of the population at risk slept under a treated net compared to 30 percent in 2010.
In 20 African countries, preventive treatment for pregnant woman increased five-fold between 2010 and 2015.
In 2015, there were 212 million new cases of malaria and 429,000 deaths. One child dies from malaria every two minutes.
According to World Malaria Report in 2016, prevention scale-up is yielding results.
From the latest estimates from WHO, many countries with ongoing malaria transmission have reduced their disease burden significantly.
On a global scale, new malaria cases fell by 21 percent between 2010 and 2015.
Malaria death rates fell by 29 percent in the same 5-year period.
However, the pace of progress must be greatly accelerated.
WHO's Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for a 40 percent reduction in malaria cases and deaths by 2020, compared to 2015 baseline levels.
Less than half (40) of the world's 91 countries with malaria transmission are on track to achieve these milestones.
Progress has been particularly slow in low-income countries with a high malaria burden.
To speed progress towards these global targets, WHO is calling on malaria-affected countries and their development partners to boost investments in malaria prevention.
In parallel, WHO is calling for greater funding for the development, evaluation and deployment of new tools.
Robust investments in malaria prevention and in new tools will propel countries along the path to elimination while also contributing to other Sustainable Development Goals, such as improving maternal and child health.
Malaria is both preventable and treatable.
WHO's work on malaria is extensive, covering community case management, diagnostic testing, drug resistance, and prevention for high risk groups, malaria elimination, malaria vaccine development, preventive therapies, surveillance, treatment and vector control.
The Global Malaria Programme of WHO has updated the malaria treatment guidelines in 2015 based on new evidence on dose-response in children, and also includes recommendations on the use of drugs for high risk groups.
Malaria deaths remain high worldwide, with about 584, 000 deaths reported in 2013, of which three-quarters were children under the age of five.
Preventive treatments are highly cost-effective, with the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year.
Vector control is an important factor to prevent and reduce malaria transmission.
Long lasting insecticide-treated nets are mainly used in Laos for the high transmission areas.
However, communities have to use the bednet correctly, and use other protective measures such as mosquito repellents when outdoors.
Many in the community are still not aware that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes and will need to be further advised on how to protect themselves against infection.
WHO will continue to strengthen the surveillance system for both humans and vectors while to promoting the ban on the use of counterfeit and substandard antimalarial drugs and encouraging health seeking behaviours among the communities, particularly among villagers, mobile and migrant populations.
Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission.
Laos has set its sight on elimination by 2030.
Together we can defeat malaria is the message for World Malaria Day.
With the required resources, and all partners united, we can transform our common vision – End Malaria for Good – into a shared reality.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 22, 2017)