malaria1People across the globe are taking part in World Malaria Day on 25 April
2013. Malaria affects and kills millions of people worldwide. In Africa,
approximately one child will die every minute ranking malaria as one of the
top 3 disease killers.

Throughout the world, 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in pregnant
women and children under the age of five. The World Malaria Report 2011
reported an estimated 655,000 people died in 2010.

Even when the disease doesn’t kill, it still can wreak havoc on
overburdened communities, governing bodies and economies in malaria-endemic
countries. Malaria often affects school and work attendance, decreases
worker productivity and drains household resources as families struggle to
pay for treatments.

In Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third in the last 10 years.
Malaria was once found on every continent and in almost every country. 35
out of the 53 affected countries outside of Africa have reduced malaria
cases by 50 percent in the same time period. Investments have created more
than 90 countries malaria-free and another 26 nearly achieving a similar

Despite the improvements, significant concerns are upon the horizon.
Financial support and control initiatives for malaria are now beginning to
fade.  Sadly, the global economic recession is tightening budgets of
individuals, governments and NGOs.  Once earmarked malaria dollars are now
being spread out to help combat non-communicable, lifestyle-induced
conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have been referenced by sensational
healthcare professionals as ‘diseases for dummies’.  However untrue, the
skyrocketing rates of these mainly personal choice, lifestyle-induced
conditions are affecting the funding to non-lifestyle, communicable
diseases such as malaria.

Essentially, high-risk, poverty-stricken pregnant women and children could
be suffering from malaria further due to potentially unnecessary healthcare
funding being distributed to the middle-to-upper classes for preventable
NCDs. The negative health outcomes of poor choices of those with money are
starting to cost more than the lack of choices of the world’s poorest.

To complicate the problem, drug-resistant strains of malaria are now
surfacing in high-risk populations of the world as well.  In 2012,
researchers found that the most effective drugs are becoming less effective
and over 20 percent of patients have begun to show treatment resistance.

Therefore now is the time for the malaria community to regroup, reenergize
and look for new innovative ways to prevent the resurgence of malaria.
Further investments and a strong defensive strategy must center on
prevention and not just the treatment of malaria.

Prevention provides tools that enable families and employees to protect
themselves against malaria and its effects. Such interventions may seem
costly at first, but the long-term health and economic benefits far
outweighs the cost of treatments.

As a basic guideline for protection against malaria, United Against Malaria
recommends having at least two long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in a
household. These nets will typically provide two to five years of
protection for a family. The level of protection is based on the size of
the family, the type of net, the number of washings and the degree of care
given.Insecticides used in indoor residual spraying (IRS) are safe for humans but
lethal to mosquitoes that land on walls within the structure. IRS has been
shown to significantly decrease mosquito and larvae populations, especially
in communities where stagnant water are present, such as those near mines,
farms or brick-making operations.

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