World Malaria Day 2012

“Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria.”

World Malaria Day was established in May 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). The day was established to provide education and understanding of malaria and disseminate information on  malaria-control strategies, including community-based activities for malaria prevention and treatment in endemic areas.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately half the world’s population is at risk from malaria. And while malaria  is a preventable and treatable disease, it still claims the life of a child every minute, with more than 90% of all malaria deaths occurring in Africa.

The theme for World Malaria Day 2012 is “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria” and 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.

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%.

However, these gains are fragile and will be reversed unless malaria continues to be a priority for global, regional and national decision-makers and donors. Despite the current economic climate, development aid needs to continue flowing to national malaria control programs to ensure widespread population access to life-saving and cost-effective interventions. Long-term success will also depend on investments in on-going research and development to combat emerging threats such as parasite resistance.

Sustaining malaria control efforts is an investment in development. Continued investment in malaria control now will propel malaria-endemic countries along the path to achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health, eradicating extreme poverty and expanding access to education.

Just by scaling up efforts to prevent malaria, including universal coverage of mosquito nets, WHO estimates that three million African children can be saved by 2015, while many more lives can be saved through a combination of proven and innovative malaria control tools including access to effective prevention, accurate diagnosis and prompt, reliable anti-malaria treatment.

Successful malaria control has a dramatic impact on the health, productivity and well-being of people living in malaria risk areas. Not only will we save lives, we will help advance progress towards other key development goals including increasing maternal and child survival, improving health of people living with HIV, reducing school absenteeism and fighting poverty.

Past World Malaria Day Themes

  • 2008: Malaria – a disease without borders
  • 2009: Counting malaria out
  • 2010: Counting malaria out
  • 2011: Achieving progress and impact

Sources: World Health Organization; Wikipedia