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Every 60 seconds a child dies from Malaria. On World Malaria Day 2015, its time the world took its temperature

Right now, somewhere in the sub-saharan tropics, a female night-biting mosquito is roaming a sweltering human habitat looking for a blood. A full feeding means she can lay more eggs in the nearby swamp. She hones in on a baby lying in a iron cradle in a baked brick shack, in an unplanned slum, and settles to draw out the blood.

Every year approximately 198 million people are diagnosed with Malaria, 500 000 of whom die as a complication, 78% of all deaths are in children under the age of 5. As of 2014, 3.2 billion people (over half the world’s population) are at risk from the disease, and 97 countries are dealing with outbreaks. Despite this worldwide problem, 80% of Malaria deaths, occur in just 18 countries most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet malaria as well as being contracted through mosquito bites, can also be spread through close bodily contact. This means those already living in areas already marked by economic degradation, and overpopulation, are more likely to suffer epidemics and pass it on. The geographical predilection of the parasite is reinforced by substandard living conditions.

For such reasons Malaria costs the world economy $12 billion in lost productivity each year; 1.3% of GDP growth. Beyond the economic ramifications, is the all to obvious human cost. Only with investment do we have any hope of eradicating the disease. According to the World Health Organisation 5.1 billion is needed every year to reach MDS goals, yet in the most recent statistics, the annual net contribution to rolling back malaria is 2.6 billion; meaning there is a funding gap of over 50%.

Yet we must never lose sight of the fact progress has been made! Between the year 2000 and 2013, the mortality rate of malaria was reduced globally by nearly 50%. An estimated 4.2 million lives were saved as a result of preventative medicine and targeted treatment. 97% of those lives saved were children under the age of 5.

As the article headline points out, every minute a child dies from malaria. It is a disease that attacks the most vulnerable from babies and toddlers, to pregnant women and the elderly. It causes untold damage to communities, and results in billions being wiped off the world economy. Yet if we invest today, the future dividends will be worth it.

Written by

Freelance journalist writing on mental health and disability. Words have the power to shine a light on realities otherwise missed.

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