One Child Dies of Malaria Every Minute

One Child Dies of Malaria Every Minute
One Child Dies of Malaria Every Minute

Malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every minute. It infects approximately 219 million people each year (a range of 154 – 289 million), with an estimated 66,000 deaths, mostly children in Africa. Ninety per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where it accounts for one in six of all childhood deaths. The disease also contributes greatly to anemia among children — a major cause of poor growth and development.

Malaria infection during pregnancy is associated with severe anemia and other illness in mothers and contributes to low birth weight among newborn infants — one of the leading risk factors for infant mortality and sub-optimal growth and development. Malaria has serious economic impacts in Africa, slowing economic growth and development and perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty. It is truly a disease of poverty — afflicting primarily the poor who tend to live in malaria-prone rural areas in poorly-constructed dwellings that offer few, if any, barriers against mosquitoes.

 Malaria is both preventable and treatable, and effective preventive and curative tools have been developed, reports

Sleeping under insecticide treated nets (ITNs) can reduce overall child mortality by 20 percent. There is evidence that ITNs, when consistently and correctly used, can save approximately six child lives per year for every 1000 children sleeping under them. Prompt access to effective treatment can further reduce deaths.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon in his message on World Malaria Day ( April 25) urged the international community to invest in the future for defeating malaria and said “the real opportunity to defeat this terrible disease exists.”

 Treatment Protocol

WHO recommends that oral artemisinin-based monotherapies be progressively withdrawn from the market and replaced with ACTs – a policy that was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2007. The number of countries that still allow the marketing of these products decreased from 55 in 2008 to 9 in November 2013; of which 6 are in the African Region.

Increasing resistance of the malaria parasite to chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine — previously the most widely used anti-malarial treatments — has prompted 79 countries and territories (as of 2011) to change their national treatment protocols to incorporate the highly-effective artemisinin-based combination therapies or ACTs.

There is increasing evidence that where they occur together, malaria and HIV infections interact.  Malaria worsens HIV by increasing viral load in adults and pregnant women; possibly accelerating progression to AIDS; and potentially increasing the risk of HIV transmission between adults, and between a mother and her child.