• Shruti GOCHHWAL

What Is World Malaria Day and Why Is It Important?

The malaria parasite is ancient. The organism has been present and infecting various species since human beings even existed.

Malaria is a life threatening infectious disease which is caused when a plasmodium parasite enters your bloodstream, typically from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Now what makes it a life threatening disease is not only its nature but it’s spreadability. In 2018, there were about 228 million cases reported worldwide and about 405,000 deaths.

Malaria in India: National Institute of Malaria Research

In India, WHO estimates 15 million overall cases of malaria, to which 20,000 add every year. In contrast, only 2 million cases and 1,000 deaths are being reported.

This makes India contribute to 77% of malaria in the whole of South East Asia.

In fact, the situation is so grim that India has a national research centre dedicated solely for the purpose of control and cure for this disease. The centre is known as the National Institute Of Malaria Research and was established in 1977. It’s goal is to completely eliminate malaria by 2030.

Life Cycle of Malaria: A Sneaky Parasite

The life cycle of malaria is very interesting and follows a devious path by infecting the female Anopheles mosquito and the human body, back and forth.

First, when the parasite-infected mosquito bites a person, it injects plasmodium sporozoite into the person’s blood stream. Once it enters the body, it multiplies and modifies to infect red blood cells. In doing so, they enter the red blood cells and ‘hide’ from the immune cells so that their invasion cannot be detected. 

Credit: pixabay Caption : infected malaria biting a person

The parasite then continues to multiply and destroy the red blood cells. Once the red blood cells burst, the parasites are free to infect other red blood cells. At this point, symptoms begin to show.

To ensure that the cycle of life of this parasite continues, a second stage takes place.

Some parasites leave the usual cycle and get modified into gametes.

However, these gametes cannot fuse in the human body. They can only do so in the mosquito.

Thus, when another mosquito bites the infected person, the gametes fuse in the mosquitoe’s midgut wall and form oocytes.

Credits: flickr Caption : parasite entering RBCs

The oocytes eventually develop into sporozoites and get transmitted into the human body during the next bite.

Importance of Prevention: Deadly Nature of Malaria

After understanding the nature of the life cycle, it is understood that malaria can spread widely, quickly and uncontrollably. This is why the disease is so difficult to control as it reproduces so quickly that cases can multiply in just a matter of days.

What makes this disease so deadly is that it mainly targets the red blood cells and affects its behaviour. Red blood cells perform countless functions of the human body like the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.

Once the person is infected, it causes deadly symptoms like shivering, high fever, loss of blood and could even lead to coma. Moreover, the body starts to swell due to over inflammation of cells.

World Malaria Day: A Call For Awareness 

          Credit: Wikimedia commons

Malaria is treatable. However, if not diagnosed quickly, it can transition into being extremely fatal, very quickly.

This is the reason why countries with underdeveloped healthcare systems, like India, report so many deaths due to malaria.

This is why awareness is so important as it only takes one mosquito to infect your body and put you in a potentially fatal predicament.

One of the biggest pushes for malaria awareness was the announcement of the annual World Malaria Day. It is celebrated on the 25th of every April and was established by WHO in May 2007.

The main goal of the day was to promote and provide comprehensive information and education of malaria and also ways to prevent it.

This international establishment also paves way for organisations and corporations to extend their help and cooperation in trying to eradicate Malaria. They can contribute in terms of funding for research and promoting global awareness.

Every year, the World Malaria Day focuses on one theme and promotes it.

For example:

  1. Zero malaria starts with me

  2. Ready to beat malaria

  3. End Malaria for good

  4. Invest in the future: defeat malaria

Moreover, it provides us information about the yearly progress of research on malaria and also informs us about new innovative ideas on how to prevent and treat it.

Progress : Malaria- free Countries

Credit: Wikimedia Commons no more Malaria

According to the WHO, malaria- free countries include :

  1. Algeria

  2. Austria

  3. Australia

  4. Japan

  5. Srilanka

  6. Bahamas

  7. Morocco

  8. Qatar

  9. UAE

  10. Croatia

  11. Denmark

  12. Finland

  13. France

  14. Germany Greece

  15. Canada

  16. New Zealand

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