Also known as WMD, World Malaria Day is commemorated every year on the 25th April in a bid to promote global efforts to understand and control malaria. WMD is one of eight official global public health campaigns upheld by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Each is aimed at raising awareness for a specific illness or health problem. In terms of malaria, the statistics are shocking - across the world, more than 3 billion people in 106 countries are currently at risk of malaria. In 2012 alone, malaria caused approximately 627,000 deaths.
What is malaria?
Malaria is a parasitic infectious disease carried by mosquitoes. When a mosquito carrying malaria bites a human, the disease is spread from the insect’s saliva to the person’s blood. If malaria isn’t diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible after becoming infected, it can be fatal. The main signs and symptoms of malaria include:
- A severe headache
- A high temperature
- Fever-like symptoms, including sweats and chills
- Aching muscles
- A dry cough
Although these are the most common symptoms of malaria, not all of the above may appear. Sometimes, people only experience two or three of the most common symptoms, such as a headache, fever and vomiting. Malaria is mainly found in tropical regions such as large areas of Africa and Asia, Central and South America, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Middle East and some Pacific Islands.
How is malaria treated?
If you have been diagnosed with malaria it is vital that you begin taking your medicine immediately. Depending on where in the world you contracted malaria and the exact type that you have will determine the treatment you receive. If you were taking antimalarial medicine prior to contracting the disease, you will need to take a different form of medication after diagnosis. You will need to stay in hospital to be monitored – it is likely that medication will be distributed intravenously to begin with, followed by a course of tablets.
Every year on 25th April, World Malaria Day focuses on a specific theme. 2016’s theme is “End malaria for good”. For more information, visit the World Malaria Day website to find out how you can help to raise awareness.