April 25 - World Malaria Day

April 25 - World Malaria Day

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 25 / Trend I.Isabalayeva /

April 25 is the World Malaria Day. The theme for World Malaria Day 2012 - "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria".

Whether the malaria map will keep shrinking, as it has in the past decade, or be reclaimed by the malaria parasites, depends, to a great extent, on the resources that will be invested in control efforts over the next years, World Health Organization (WHO) told Trend.

World Malaria Day - which was instituted by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session in May 2007 - is a day for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control of malaria.
99 countries around the world have ongoing malaria transmission, and as many as 3.3 billion people are at risk of being infected. According to WHO's estimates, approximately 216 million cases of malaria occurred in 2010 and the disease killed about 655,000 people. 86 percent of the victims are children under 5 years of age, and over 90% of malaria deaths occur in the WHO African Region. Globally, the estimated incidence of malaria has been reduced by 17 percent since 2000 while malaria-specific mortality rates have declined by 26 percent.

Over the past 16 years, intensive anti-malaria interventions have substantially reduced the number of reported autochthonous malaria cases in the WHO European Region: from 90 712 cases in 1995 to 62 in 2011. Additionally, a small-scale outbreak of 40 autochthonous P.vivax cases was reported in Laconia of Greece in 2011.

Since 2008, all malaria-affected countries of the Region have finally moved towards elimination and revised their national strategies on malaria to reflect new realities. When a country has zero locally acquired malaria cases for at least three consecutive years, it can request WHO to certify it as malaria free.

In Azerbaijan the malaria (due to P.vivax only) situation began to deteriorate rapidly at the beginning of the 1990s. In 1993-1994, the number of malaria cases increased from 23 to 667, and the number of malaria cases reached 13 135 by 1996. This was largely due to worsening socioeconomic conditions, changes in agricultural practices and the seasonal migration of agricultural workers, as well as the mass displacement of nearly 1 million people by armed conflict. In 1997, mudslides throughout the Kura-Araz and Lenkoran lowlands aggravated the situation, as mosquito-breeding sites increased dramatically. Over the course of 1997-2011, as a result of large-scale epidemic control interventions, the malaria situation in the country continued to improve, and in 2011 4 locally acquired cases only were reported in the country.

By endorsing in December 2005 WHO/EURO Regional Declaration "The Move from Malaria Control to Elimination" Azerbaijan once more demonstrated its political support and adherence to fight malaria.

A national malaria elimination strategy in Azerbaijan for 2008-2013 and a plan of action, both developed with assistance from WHO/Europe, were launched in November 2008. The aim of the National Strategy is to interrupt local transmission of malaria in Azerbaijan by 2013. The National Strategy is under implementation now.

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