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World Malaria Day 2014


FILE - Indian school children hold placards as they walk during a Malaria awareness rally in Kolkata, India.

On April 25th we observe World Malaria Day to highlight the global effort to effectively control this terrible, yet largely preventable and treatable illness.

On April 25th we observe World Malaria Day to highlight the global effort to effectively control this terrible, yet largely preventable and treatable illness.

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected female mosquito. Once it enters the body, the parasite multiplies in the liver, and then infects red blood cells, causing fever, severe headache and other symptoms. In some cases, the disease can progress to coma, and eventually death.

About half of the world's population, nearly 3.4 billion people, is at risk for malaria, primarily those living in developing countries. In 2012, 207 million people became infected with the disease, and 627,000 of them died, 482,000 of whom were children. Most of these deaths could have been prevented.

Still, the news is good and the situation is improving. According to the World Health Organization’s 2013 World Malaria Report, global efforts against malaria have saved some 3.3 million lives since 2000, and reduced malaria mortality rates by 49 percent in Africa, and 45 percent globally.

The news is even better for children — the rate of malaria mortality among kids under the age of five is down 51 percent. In 2012, for the first time, fewer than 500,000 children died of malaria.

Yet more needs to be done. To help fund the fight against Malaria, President Barack Obama announced last December that the United States will provide one dollar for every two dollars contributed by the rest of the world to the Global Fund to Fight HIV, TB, and Malaria, up to $5 billion by 2016.

“We’re knocking on the door of doing what many fifteen years ago deemed impossible,” wrote Secretary of State John Kerry shortly after the release of the World Health Organization’s Report.

“We can beat malaria, one of the most intransigent diseases on the planet. By bringing together governments, business leaders, philanthropists, donor agencies and citizens in malaria endemic countries to end deaths from this preventable and treatable disease, we’re making tremendous, unparalleled progress.”
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