Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium which initially hides in the liver before going in to the bloodstream & infecting the red blood cells which carryover oxygen around the body.
The parasites breed & burst out of red blood cells every 48 to 72 hours & each eruption of parasites is accompanied by a bout of fever, chills & sweating.
The parasites are spread from individual to individual by mosquitoes when they drink blood.
A single bite from the high-pitched whining insects is all it can take to become infected.How much have cases fallen?
In 2000, there were 262 million cases of malaria infection & 839,000 people died.
The latest document by the World Health Organization & Unicef said malaria death rates had fallen by 60% & the cases had fallen by 37% .
They estimate that 6.2 million lives have been saved, with the giant majority being children.
In Africa, it is estimated that 700 million cases of malaria have been prevented since 2000 & it is no longer the largest cause of death on the continent.
How has it been achieved? Efforts to control malaria focus on stopping people being bitten by mosquitoes & treating them one time they have malaria.
68% of the fall in cases was down to the distribution of a billion insecticide-treated bed nets
22% was attributed to the drug treatment artemisinin
10% to spraying homes with insecticide
thirds of at-risk children around the globe are now sleeping under insecticide treated nets.
In South East Asia, the malaria parasite can shrug off the effects of the drug artemisinin. The drug is meant to be used in combination with other drugs to prevent resistance however there’s concerns about how the drug is being used.
Artemisinin resistance has been spreading & is now on the verge of entering India & specialists have described that as both “alarming” & an “enormous threat”.
Meanwhile, some mosquitoes are becoming resistant to the drugs used to coat the bed nets.Can malaria be eradicated?
There has already been great progress in tackling malaria with the disease being driven out of Europe, North The united states, the Caribbean & parts of Asia & South-Central The united states.
The WHO says 13 countries that had malaria in 2000 no longer have any cases of the disease & an additional six reported fewer than ten cases.
It shows the disease can be eliminated from countries & potentially could be eradicated .
However, sub-Saharan Africa remains the epicentre of the disease & there’s still hundreds of thousands of cases on the continent each year.
It will require further significant progress here before talk of eradication is taken seriously.