Having been instituted by the World Health Organization in the World Health Assembly of 2007, World Malaria Day, is an occasion that highlights the need for governments to make continuous investments and have a sustained political commitment for the prevention and control of Malaria.
Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria
What is Malaria?
This can be a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by a parasite that affects certain types of mosquitoes which then feed on humans. When these mosquitoes bite humans, people become very sick with high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like symptoms. Although extremely dangerous this disease has now become immensely preventable thanks to the introduction of Vaccines.
Anti-Malaria Campaign in Sri Lanka
The need for an effective response to malaria was recognized prior to independence in 1948. Organized malaria control activities commenced in 1911 with the establishment of the Anti Malaria Campaign in Kurunegala when Sri Lanka was still a British colony. Subsequently, several more units of the Anti Malaria Campaign were established in other highly malarious regions of the country. A major achievement was the dramatic reduction in the country wide malaria incidence after the introduction of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in 1946. In 1958, the Government of the newly independent Ceylon launched a malaria eradication programme, in keeping with the WHO recommendations at that time. Remarkable gains were achieved during the “Attack Phase” of the eradication programme, and near eradication status was reached in 1963 and complete eradication was achieved by 2012.
Tackling Malaria During a Global Pandemic
COVID-19 emerged as a major threat to malaria responses around the world in 2020. WHO has urged countries to sustain critical health services, including malaria treatment, while ensuring that populations and health workers are safe from COVID-19 transmission since the beginning of the pandemic.
Many malaria-endemic countries responded admirably to the pandemic, adapting their malaria-treatment delivery systems to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by governments. The worst-case scenario of a WHO modeling study was undoubtedly averted as a result of these efforts. According to the report, if access to nets and antimalarial drugs were heavily limited, the number of people who died from malaria would skyrocket.
However, more than a year after the pandemic began, significant health care disruptions still exist around the world. According to the findings of a recent WHO study, malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment programs were disrupted in roughly one-third of countries worldwide during the first quarter of 2021.
Lockdowns and limitations on people and goods movement have caused delays in the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor insecticide spraying campaigns in many countries. Because several people were unable – or unable – to seek treatment in health facilities, malaria diagnosis and treatment programs were disrupted.
People with a fever should go to the nearest health facility to be screened for malaria and receive the treatment they need, according to national COVID-19 guidelines, according to WHO.
- Anti-Malaria Campaign in Sri Lanka: http://www.malariacampaign.gov.lk/en/
- FAQs about Malaria: https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/faqs.html#:~:text=Malaria%20is%20a%20serious%20and,humans%3A%20Plasmodium%20falciparum%2C%20P
- Tackling Malaria During a Pandemic: https://www.who.int/news/item/21-04-2021-world-malaria-day-who-launches-effort-to-stamp-out-malaria-in-25-more-countries-by-2025
- Symptoms of Malaria: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/malaria/symptoms-causes/syc-20351184