About the event
The aim of World Malaria Day is to provide education and understanding of malaria as a serious, but preventable global problem. Originally called Africa Malaria Day, in 2008 it was changed to World Malaria Day to recognise the fight to eradicate malaria internationally. It now forms one of the WHO’s 11 global public health campaigns.
The day is becoming increasingly focused on countries that have achieved or are close to achieving malaria elimination. Recently these include Sri Lanka, Morocco, El Salvador, Argentina and China.
How to approach it
There are two things that are useful to focus on today. Firstly, give a sense of the scale of the problem that malaria has posed and continues to pose. Malaria has existed since the ancient Chinese and Greeks. In the 20th century alone it accounted for over 150 million deaths. In 2020 there were an estimated 241 million cases and 627,000 deaths with 95% of the cases and 96% of the deaths occurring within Africa. You don’t have to go into detail here, just give a good sense of the timescale, geographical area and human effect malaria has had.
Secondly, show that the solutions to the malaria epidemic are out there and that many countries have used them successfully to massively reduce malaria cases. A combination of mosquito nets, spraying, preventative medicines and soon to be developed vaccines can all effectively reduce malaria rates. For example, the Mekong sub-region of countries (Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam) has reduced malaria by 97% since 2000. The main problem is more about access to the appropriate solutions and coordinating regional responses to elimination. With Africa remaining the most at risk region, highlight the importance of global economic support and cooperation in ending the malaria epidemic.
The climate crisis is making many environments warmer and more humid - the perfect conditions for mosquitos. This is increasing the risk of malaria for many communities. Who do you think should be responsible for protecting such communities from malaria: The local leaders? The countries that have contributed the most to the climate crisis? Anyone with enough money to pay for the medicine and nets needed to prevent malaria?