Original author: Olusoga Sofolahan, Nigeria
On April 25, people across the globe will take part in a wide range of activities to mark World Malaria Day 2013. These activities will no doubt look back at the remarkable progress that the global development community has made in combating malaria and indeed other infectious diseases over the years.
2013 WORLD MALARIA DAY - Theme: Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria
On April 25, people across the globe will take part in a wide range of activities to mark World Malaria Day 2013. These activities will no doubt look back at the remarkable progress that the global development community has made in combatting malaria and indeed other infectious diseases over the years.
However, one of the key lessons other infectious disease control has shown is that when there is an opportunity to control the spread of disease, it must be taken. Therefore now is the time for the malaria community to regroup, reenergize and look ahead to “invest in the future: defeat malaria”.
Investments in malaria control have created unprecedented momentum and yielded remarkable returns in the past years. In Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third within the last decade; outside of Africa, 35 out of the 53 countries, affected by malaria, have reduced cases by 50% in the same time period. In countries where access to malaria control interventions has improved most significantly, overall child mortality rates have fallen by approximately 20%.
These great strides are now under threat; the focus on malaria control is beginning to fade and has led to insufficient financial support. With an annual shortage of US$3.6 billion, particularly across Africa where high burden countries are facing critical funding gaps, all the impressive gains in malaria control over the past decade are threatening to grind to a halt and in some cases reverse. To avoid this, further investment must be made to ensure that this funding gap is bridged and that the endemic countries have the resources and technical support they need. Only then will it be possible to finish the job and see that malaria is eliminated worldwide.
The Roll Back Malaria campaign “Invest in the future: defeat malaria” will help strengthen the political will across the world and will contribute to increase the funding needed to control malaria in endemic countries.
This year Partners are also invited to support the big push campaign by linking it to their World Malaria Day messaging and communications. The big push is a digital campaign launched on September 24 2012 as a platform for galvanizing support for global health.
There is a significant risk of getting malaria if you travel to an affected area. It is very important you take precautions to prevent it.
In 2010, over 1,700 travelers were diagnosed with malaria after returning to the UK. Most cases were acquired in Africa.
Malaria can often be avoided using the ABCD approach to prevention which stands for:
A = Awareness of risk: find out whether you are at risk of getting
B = Bite prevention: avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent, covering your arms and legs and using a mosquito net.
C = Check whether you need to take malaria prevention tablets: if you do, ensure you take the right antimalarial tablets, at the right dose and that you finish the course.
D = Diagnosis: seek immediate medical advice if you have malaria-like symptoms, including up to a year after you return from travelling. These are outlined in more detail below.
Being aware of the risks
To check whether you need to take preventative malaria treatment for the countries you are visiting, see the Fit for Travel or the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) websites.
It's also important to visit your GP or local travel clinic for malaria advice as soon as you know you are going to be travelling.
It is not possible to avoid mosquito bites completely but the less you are bitten, the less likely you are to get malaria.
To avoid being bitten:
• Stay somewhere that has effective air conditioning and screening on doors and windows. If this is not possible, make sure that doors and windows close properly.
• If you are not sleeping in an air-conditioned room, sleep under an
intact mosquito net that has been treated with insecticide.
• Use insect repellent on your skin and in sleeping environments. Remember to re-apply it frequently. The most effective repellents
contain diethyltoluamide (DEET) and are available in sprays, roll-ons,
sticks and creams.
• Wear light, loose-fitting trousers, rather than shorts, and shirts with long sleeves. This is particularly important during early evening and at night when mosquitoes prefer to feed. Garlic, vitamin B and ultrasound devices do not prevent mosquito bites from occurring.
Chemoprophylaxis (antimalarial tablets)
Taking medicine to prevent getting malaria is essential if you are visiting areas where there is a risk of malaria. However, antimalarial are not 100% effective so taking steps to avoid bites is also important.
When taking antimalarial medication:
• Make sure you get the right antimalarial tablets before you go (check with your GP or pharmacist if you are unsure).
• Follow the instructions included with your tablets carefully.
• It is important that you continue to take your tablets after returning from your trip (to cover the incubation period of the disease).
• Most antimalarial tablets need to be taken for four weeks after you
return, although atovaquone plus proguanil (Malarone) needs to only be taken for one week.
Check with your GP to make sure you are prescribed a medication you can tolerate. You may be more at risk from side effects if you have:
• HIV or AIDS
• Epilepsy or any type of seizure
• Heart problems
• Liver or kidney disease
• Porphyria (an inherited condition that causes sensitivity to sunlight)
• Psoriasis (red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales)
• psychiatric problems
You may also be more at risk from side effects if:
• Your spleen has been removed or does not work properly.
• You take medicine, such as warfarin, to prevent blood clots.
• You are a woman using combined hormonal contraception, such as the contraceptives pill or contraceptive patches.
If you have taken antimalarial medication in the past, don't assume that it is suitable for future trips. The antimalarial you need to take will depend on which strain of malaria is carried by the mosquitoes and whether they are resistant to certain types of antimalarial medication.
Chloroquine and proguanil can be bought from local pharmacies. For all other antimalarial tablets, you will need a prescription from your GP.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
Message on World Malaria Day
25 April 2013
VIENNA, 25 April (UN Information Service) Since world leaders adopted the
Millennium Development Goals in 2000, a broad partnership of governments, United Nations entities, philanthropies and businesses has combined to protect hundreds of millions of people from malaria. Increased international funding, matched by growing political commitment in endemic countries, triggered a massive increase in preventive interventions and expanded access to diagnostic testing and life-saving medicines, averting more than a million deaths.
The MDG target of halting and reversing the incidence of malaria is now in sight, and 50 countries are on track to reduce their malaria burden by at least 75 per cent by 2015. However, major challenges remain. Malaria continues to inflict a major toll on least developed countries - primarily in Africa - and millions of people still lack access to life-saving interventions.
In Africa, malaria kills a child every minute. Weak surveillance systems mean that cases are vastly under-reported; and governments and the World Health Organization have too little information about where malaria occurs and how trends are changing, although improvements in data collection are under way. Emerging resistance of the malaria parasite to drugs, and mosquitos to insecticides, are further complicating efforts to combat this persistent threat to lives and productivity.
Recently, global funding for malaria control has plateaued. Although half the
resources needed to achieve near-zero deaths from malaria by the 2015 MDG
deadline have been committed, there is still a near-US$5 billion annual shortfall. This is starting to slow the scale-up of key malaria interventions in Africa, particularly the distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets.
To prevent malaria from resurging, and to continue to alleviate suffering, especially in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, the international community needs to provide the necessary funding to protect all at-risk groups and support research and innovation to develop new tools.
Replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria should be a priority. The theme for this year's global World Malaria Day campaign is "Invest in the future. Defeat malaria". Controlling malaria does more than improve human health. It boosts social well-being and economic development. I urge the global health community, including political leaders in endemic countries, to maintain their commitment to provide universal access to malaria interventions and end needless suffering from this preventable and treatable disease.
As members of World Organization of Scout Movement (WOSM), there are a lot of Messengers of Peace Projects that can be done in support of Malaria Awareness and Bite Preventions, please think out these Projects and participate in any that you have chosen.
Good Hunting & Happy Malaria Day Celebrations
Omo Olofin Adimula
Umit Savas Baran, Turkey
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