First World Malaria Day Highlights Prevention, Control

The Nation's Health, June-July 2008 | Go to article overview
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First World Malaria Day Highlights Prevention, Control


THIS YEAR'S first-ever World Malaria Day allowed international public health leaders and advocates to spotlight continued efforts to control and prevent a disease that affects 500 million and kills more than 1 million people each year.

Commemorated on April 25, the day was marked with renewed partnerships in the anti-malaria fight and highlights of some successes in malaria control. The disease is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa but also takes a heavy toll in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Europe. More than 40 percent of the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria.

According to a policy brief from the Global Health Council, the goal of eradicating malaria is possible, but it would require three main strategies. First, better control would be needed to reduce the number of people newly infected or living with the disease and to reduce death and disability due to the disease. Elimination would require both reducing to zero the number of infections and cases in a geographic region as well as maintaining that reduction over time. And eradication would mean the permanent global elimination of malaria--accomplished with a global disease only once when smallpox was eradicated in 1980.

An editorial in the April 26 issue of the Lancet cited some recent successes in addressing malaria's toll, including Rwanda's reports of decreased cases among children younger than 5 by 64 percent and deaths by 67 percent between 2005 and 2007.

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