SEATTLE — World Malaria Day, held on April 25, is an international occasion meant to spread awareness of the malaria epidemic which kills about 400,000 people annually. This day commemorates the efforts of aid organizations while acknowledging goals and priorities for the upcoming year. Humanitarian agencies crucial to this cause emphasize the importance of political commitment to ending this epidemic. Understanding its impact, the U.S. has passed a World Malaria Day Resolution (S.Res. 149) to pledge its support of the goals and ideals of World Malaria Day.
Sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the World Malaria Day Resolution, introduced and agreed to on May 2, is a simple resolution that recognizes the importance of the U.S. role in the fight against malaria. The resolution both commends aid organizations helping the fight against malaria and encourages the international community to increase its support. As for the U.S. role in the malaria response, the resolution maintains that the U.S. will continue to provide research and support work in sub-Saharan Africa’s malaria epidemic.
The resolution also focuses on children and maternal health, citing research that young children and pregnant women are more vulnerable to and disproportionately affected by malaria. With more than 70 percent of malaria deaths a year being children younger than five, this resolve stresses the protection of children in this epidemic.
While focusing its efforts on children and prenatal women, the resolve is also concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, because that is where this crisis is worst. Although nearly half of the world’s population is at risk for malaria, the resolution declares that sub-Saharan Africa is burdened disproportionately, accounting for 90 percent of malaria cases and 92 percent of malaria deaths.
The theme for this year’s World Malaria Day was “End Malaria for Good.” Although this goal seems lofty, there have been strides in the fight against malaria. Since 2000, malaria cases have decreased by about 50 percent, and between 2010 and 2015, preventive treatment for pregnant women increased five-fold. With much more work to do, however, the U.S. remains an influential figure in the fight against malaria, as outlined by the 2017 World Malaria Day Resolution.
– Kelly Hayes