25th April, internationally known as “World Malaria Day”, is the day that recognizes the global efforts to regulate malaria.
Commonly known to be spread by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito, this disease is much more than just an itchy dipteron bite. It is the reason for over thousands of deaths worldwide. In 2012, Malaria caused an estimate 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children, after which the second most affected are Asians, then in Latin America, and to lesser extents the Middle East and parts of Europe.
The awareness day came into formation through many African Malaria Awareness campaigns, and is now a globally renowned awareness day. According to the most recent World Malaria Report, the global tally of malaria reached 429,000 malaria deaths and 212 million new cases in 2015. Though the rate of new malaria cases fell by 21% globally between 2010 and 2015, with malaria death rates falling by 29% in the same period.
Pakistan has also been a favorite of this vector-borne disease, sharing high burdens with other major diseases such as dengue, haemorrhagic fever, etc. With one million estimated and 300,000 confirmed reported cases each year, Pakistan has been grouped with Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen accounting for more than 95% of the total regional malaria burden, the transmission being traditionally seasonal and of unstable patterns.
Epidemically, Pakistan is classified as a moderate malaria endemic country with a National API averaging at 1.08 (MIS, 2015) and great diversity among the provinces and districts. Some of the main reasons behind malaria outbreaks in Pakistan include;
- unpredictable transmission patterns
- low immune status of the population in the lowest areas
- poor environmental conditions
- natural disasters including floods and heavy rainfall
- lack of access to quality health care in most regions
Though in action against this epidemic, since 1950s, functional efforts have been made in the succession of different approaches. The most ambitious program was the Malaria Education Campaign, spearheaded by USAID since 1961. And with WHO supporting the national and provincial control programmes since 2002, instrumental development linkages have been made based on the concepts of integrated vector management.
Malaria is one of the oldest and deadliest diseases, having troubled people for generations on end, but we do have what it takes to put an end to it. Though still a long way from fully taking control over it, through joint efforts and by putting all our energy into this cause, we can contribute to stop the spread of such epidemics, to promote health and healthy lives, to improve economies, to save lives and stop the cycle of poverty.