World Mosquito Day: Creating Awareness About Malaria Globally

World Mosquito Day is observed every year on 20 August in honor of Sir Ronald Ross, a British doctor, who discovered, in 1897, that female mosquitoes were responsible for the transmission of malaria. It points towards the need for the world to raise awareness about the causes of the potentially life-threatening diseases and the ways it can be prevented.

Things You Need to Know

According to the World Health Organisation, malaria occurs when a mosquito infected with the parasite Plasmodium bites someone. Four different types of malaria parasites could infect humans: Plasmodium vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. falciparum. The fourth is responsible for the most severe form of the disease, with a higher risk of death.

Congenital malaria is a common form, where an infected mother passes the infection on to the fetus.

Since blood is the major transmission path, here are a few ways malaria could be contracted:

  • Organ transplants
  • Blood transfusion
  • Use of shared needles or syringes

Some common symptoms:

  • High fever with chills
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headache and vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness, weakness and impaired consciousness
  • Prostration, or muscle pains
  • Convulsions
  • Deep breathing and respiratory distress
  • Signs of anemia
  • Bloody stools
  • Malaria without proper treatment can be fatal

The Numbers

The WHO estimates 2019 million reported malaria cases from 2017, with 435000 patients succumbing to the disease.

According to WHO’s world Malaria report in 2018, there has been a 24 percent decline in malaria cases in 2017 as compared to 2016, in India.

National Health Portal of India reports that the majority of malaria cases are reported from eastern and central part of the country and from states which have forest, hilly and tribal areas. These states include Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and some north-eastern states like Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram. In India malaria cases have consistently declined from 2.08 million in 2001 to about 4 lakh in 2018. Of the countries hardest hit by malaria, only India showed progress in reducing its disease burden.

The Government of India launched the National Framework for Malaria Elimination 2016-2030 in February 2016 and the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination 2017-2022 in July 2017 with the support of the World Health Organisation.

Challenges such as funding, development of resistance among mosquitoes and parasites, lack of political and administrative will, and a lack of monitoring of the cases — all need to be addressed for further progress in bringing down the numbers.

Prevention

  • The windows, doors and all the open spaces of the house must be covered with a screen or net.
  • Instant mosquito killers and mosquito repellent creams must be kept handy.
  • While stepping out, keep your body covered, specially in areas that have a high density of mosquitoes.
  • It’s often claimed that mosquitoes find light-coloured clothes less attractive, so light color clothes must be worn if there are many lingering mosquitoes.
  • Mosquitoes breed in areas with stagnant water, so stagnant water must be removed and pots, buckets must be washed clearly.

Also Read: Drug-Resistant Malaria Returning ‘Aggressively’ to South-East Asia

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