Today is , as you may know, World Malaria Day 2015. We covered the day last year here.
Despite dramatic declines in malaria cases and deaths since 2000, more than half a million lives are still lost to this preventable disease each year.
At least three quarters of malaria deaths occur in children under 5. Yet in 2013, only about one in five African children with malaria received effective treatment for the disease, 15 million pregnant women did not receive a single dose of the recommended preventive drugs, and an estimated 278 million people in Africa still live in households without a single insecticide-treated bed net.
“As we celebrate World Malaria Day on April 25, we must recognize the urgent need to expand prevention measures and quality-assured diagnostic testing and treatment to reduce the human suffering caused by malaria,” says Dr Hiroki Nakatani, World Health Organisation (WHO) Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
WHO also recommends that the most vulnerable groups in malaria-endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa—pregnant women, children under 5, and infants—receive preventive treatment to reduce the risk of malaria infection. Preventive treatments are highly cost-effective, with the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year. Coverage with such treatments, however, remains low and needs to be significantly scaled up.
The need to urgently address gaps in preventive treatment for malaria is also being highlighted by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, which has issued a global call to action to increase national coverage with preventive treatment in pregnancy.