Today is the fourth annual World Malaria Day. On this date in 2000, leaders from 44 malaria-affected African countries signed the Abuja Declaration pledging to cut their malaria deaths in half by 2010. Although much more effort will be required, many countries show substantial progress. The WHO-commissioned World malaria report 2010 notes insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying have been very helpful in protecting people from malaria. [For a brief summary of the report click here.] The report notes several accomplishments. Eleven African countries reduced by half confirmed malaria cases or malaria admissions and deaths over the past decade. In addition, 32 of the 56 malaria-endemic countries outside Africa reduced their cases by half. Morocco and Turkmenistan eliminated malaria in 2009. Also in 2009, the WHO European Region reported no cases of Plasmodium falciparum malaria for the first time. Despite the good news, Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, warns: “Progress, on every front, at every level, is fragile. Malaria is an extremely complex disease that has been causing deaths and social disruption since the beginning of recorded human history. This is a disease that can take full advantage of any lapse in investment, vigilance, or control.” Indeed, malaria continues to be in the headlines (see more at http://healthmap.org/malaria):
- A travel ban was put into place on March 28th between Queensland and Papua New Guinea through the Torres Strait due to a malaria outbreak.
- The United Kingdom has issues a warning to travelers that they need to remember to take their anti-malarials while on holiday. The UK has seen a 30% jump in cases in the past two years, and when asked, 85% of them reported not taking the medications.
- Due to unrest in the past several years, the Yala Province of Thailand has seen an increase in malaria cases from 30 per year to 3000 per year. In January – March 2011 2320 cases had been confirmed.
- 11 people have died and 909 cases have been confirmed in Goromonzi West, Zimbabwe. Malaria is the biggest killer of children under 5 in Zimbabwe.
- Following March flooding in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 4 cases of malaria have been confirmed
- China reports 11 deaths from malaria in 3 months