April 25th, 2013 was World Malaria Day, which is a day to focus on malaria control. Roll Back Malaria (RBM) and partner organizations unite around this theme to end malaria. People around the globe participated in various activities and events to review the progress made against malaria, and to determine what steps should be taken next. They will also raise awareness on malaria in developing countries within Africa and Asia. The main goal of World Malaria Day is to make the world recognize that there is a chance to stop the disease in its tracks, and the time to do it is now. The disease must be stopped as soon as possible in order to invest in developing countries’ futures. In the last decade, incredible steps have already been taken. Malaria deaths within Africa have been reduced by one third, and more than half of the countries with malaria in their borders have reduced their number of malaria cases by one half.
Malaria is a disease that commonly affects children, and in that regard, child mortality has been cut by 20%. Despite these amazing feats, there is still more to be done. People are starting to believe that the malaria issue is “resolved,” and no longer needs time and effort, but this is not the case. There are major financial gaps in countries that need malaria control. There is a shortage of $3.6 billion, and Africa is getting hit the hardest. There is potential for the progress that has been made to be stopped, and there is even potential that the progress will go in a reverse direction, to the point where malaria cases will begin to increase. This cannot be allowed to happen, and World Malaria Day wanted to showcase the reasons why malaria is still an important issue.
World Malaria Day encouraged people to increase the investments made so that countries, like those in Africa, can reduce their funding gaps. Malaria is an easy disease to prevent, but it is just as easy to stop that prevention, so that it spreads quickly across the world. Malaria must be eliminated worldwide so that developing countries have the support they need, both technically and in resources. World Malaria Day also wished to encourage the people to take part in politics, to show their countries that they want to help the world eradicate this disease. The campaign slogan is, “invest in the future: defeat malaria.” In addition, there is a call to create a zero human malaria planet, so that no one will ever have to face this disease again.
There is a campaign related to the World Malaria Day messages called #thebigpush campaign. #Thebigpush campaign is a digital campaign that began on September 24, 2012. It is a platform that encourages people to support global health initiatives in order to eradicate as many diseases and health issues as possible, including malaria. This campaign is one that is attempting to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of global health and defeating preventable diseases.
The Global Fund is the main funder for malaria control, and has distributed 310 million nets to various households. Sir Richard Feachem, expert on malaria control, noted that 100 countries have eliminated malaria within their borders, and that is it time to eradicate malaria worldwide. He believes it is an entirely possible feat, as long as progress continues to be made. He urges the world to maintain this anti-malaria momentum by supporting anti-malaria causes, such as those that distribute nets to developing countries. A notable non-profit organization to support is Nothing but Nets. Nothing but Nets aims to send anti-malaria bed nets to every family that needs one. If campaigns like this one are globally supported, then it is entirely possible that malaria can be eradicated in the upcoming years.
– Corina Balsamo
Sources: Huffington Post, Technology Review, World Malaria Day 2013