The tiny killer

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Worldwide a silent killer is causing illness that claims more than 650,000 lives each year, the vast majority are children in sub-Saharan Africa.

The killer?

Yes, this inch long mosquito infects the red blood cells of 216 million people a year with malaria.

Symptoms for malaria include fever and headache and if untreated can result in coma or death. Warmer climates keep mosquitos around, which is why they are so prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. A simple net or insect repellent can keep help keep them at bay, but poorer countries do not have the luxury of even that. The World Health Organization says one-third of the global population lives in malaria-endemic countries. Which only furthers the interest in fighting this endemic. This disease while not curable yet can be prevented and if caught a patient can receive medications, but like a lot of other illnesses in these parts of the world, it cannot be stopped because the countries worry about barley having  enough water and food to feed their populations let alone provide medical help to its citizens.

Malaria and this tiny killer aren’t a threat to a lot of the Western world, so it is often forgotten and left for poorer countries to deal with. Did you know that a World Malaria Day exists? It is today (April 25th) but most I would assume are unaware of its existence. The theme for World Malaria Day 2012 – Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria – marks a decisive juncture in the history of malaria control. Whether the malaria map will keep shrinking, as it has in the past decade, or be reclaimed by the malaria parasites, depends, to a great extent, on the resources that will be invested in control efforts over the next 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%.

This fight is different from any other in my opinion. It can be fought, the statistics show that. We as a global society need to continue flowing to national malaria control programs to ensure widespread population access to life-saving and cost-effective interventions. That takes the knowledge that this problem exists and the knowledge that a box of nets and insect repellent can be a possible solution for a village in these countries.

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