[GLOBAL HEALTH] Childhood Malaria Declines, More Work to Be Done

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Early childhood deaths due to malaria are in rapid decline, eight years after a U.S. campaign against the disease began in 15 high-risk countries. Figures from the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) show that early childhood deaths are down by 16 percent in Malawi to as much as 50 percent in Rwanda.

“Since PMI’s launch in 2005, impressive gains in malaria control have been documented in PMI focus countries,” according to the findings released by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in recognition of World Malaria Day April 25.

“Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria” is the 2013 rallying cry for the community of malaria fighters worldwide, which includes USAID, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, the U.K. Department for International Development, UNICEF and many nongovernmental organizations.

“It is unacceptable that every day more than 1,500 children still die from a preventable and curable disease,” said Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF’s director of programs. “We must distribute insecticide-treated nets to all who need them, provide timely testing for children and appropriate medicine when they are infected.”

Bed nets protect sleeping people from biting mosquitoes, which transmit the disease-causing parasite to humans. Fewer than 5.6 million people in sub-Saharan Africa slept under bed nets in 2005, but now more than 140 million sleep with nets, UNICEF reports, due to the efforts of many contributing nations and organizations.

The President’s Malaria Initiative has distributed more than 62 million bed nets since 2006, and helped other donors distribute almost 13.5 million bed protectors.

WHO estimates that malaria caused 219 million cases of disease in 2010, leading to 660,000 deaths. But in the almost 10-year accelerated campaign against malaria, it is estimated that 1.1 million lives have been saved from premature death.

The tropical regions where the parasite-carrying mosquito is a health threat are home to 3.3 billion people. The new USAID report says that burden of illness accounts for 30 to 40 percent of outpatient visits and hospital admissions. Easing that case load “enables overstretched health workers to concentrate on managing other childhood illnesses,” the report says.

USAID documents that the U.S. malaria program has contributed to a sharp decline in childhood deaths in a number of sub-Saharan countries:

• 50 percent reduction in Rwanda.

• 50 percent in Senegal.

• 37 percent in Mozambique.

• 36 percent in Kenya.

WHO reports that an estimated 91 percent of malaria deaths in 2010 were in Africa, followed by Southeast Asia with 6 percent. Worldwide, 86 percent of malaria deaths were in children.

The risk of malaria is declining and more children are surviving, but a long-term malaria threat still lurks in the future. A strain of the malaria parasite has appeared in some areas with resistance to what have been the most effective medicines to fight them. Cases caused by the resistant strain require more expensive, less accessible medicines to cure a patient.

And some fear that the parasite may ultimately become resistant to everything that doctors currently have in the medicine cabinet.

Read more about the impact, biology, and research: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/Malaria/Pages/default.aspx
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This entry was posted in Current Events in Healthcare, Events in Nursing, Global Health and tagged , , , by Heather Swift. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heather Swift

Heather “Swifty” Swift has been Kicking mAss since 1998. At 28 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a recently single mom with two small babies on her hip. After completing treatment with the thought that cancer was in her rear view mirror she worked, locally, as a volunteer for Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance doing community outreach to be certain that no one faced cancer alone. In 2005, she had a secondary diagnosis of breast cancer and tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation, which only amped up her commitment to creating positive change and to becoming a strong and effective advocate for the young adult cancer community. Now, at age 42, Swifty, her partner, Brian, and her two teenage children work together locally, nationally and internationally to advocate for change. Swifty regularly meets with legislators to work towards tangible change in health care, legislation that addresses the needs of cancer patients, care-partners, and families. She works directly with clinicians, medical/nursing students, youth & college students, cancer support organizations and others to educate them about the special needs of young adults living with a cancer diagnosis. Swifty is passionate about providing support by connecting people living with cancer to resources, to other cancer survivors, and to mobilizing and training individuals and groups to find their inner advocate. Swifty currently works with a number of amazing, hand-selected organizations, which provide her with opportunities to educate, to advocate, and to change the conversation about cancer and to work to bring an end to the disease. A few include: LiveSTRONG, mAss Kickers, Imerman Angels, National Breast Cancer Coalition, Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Dusty Showers & The Second Basemen, and Stupid Cancer. Swifty is an oncology nursing student in upstate New York, loves time with her family, paddling sports, and peanut butter. She is a Virgo, but not the really anal-retentive type. Her strange fascination with superheroes makes her popular in geek circles, but it can be endearing. Swifty will be riding a llama across Oregon in July of 2012 and really does believe we can achieve and end to cancer and in world peace. Motto: Never Give Up! Favorite quote: “Our own life has to be our message.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

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