Every year over 1 million people die of malaria globally. Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting the disease, particularly people living in lower-income countries. Malaria is the leading cause of death among children under 5 in Africa, many of whom have underdeveloped immune systems. The disease remains a leading cause of school and work absenteeism and puts tremendous pressure on household incomes.
This year’s theme for World Malaria Day is “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria” – a vision shared by PCI. With a holistic approach and recognition of the comprehensive health needs of local community members, PCI promotes community action and integration of malaria into our disease prevention, humanitarian assistance and maternal and child health programs. PCI uses the community platforms that have been developed in different country programs as a means of scaling up proven malaria interventions such as insecticide-treated net distribution, support for early case finding, and treatment adherence.
Achieving universal coverage for all populations at risk of malaria using locally appropriate interventions (such as the use of insecticide-treated nets and preventative treatment for pregnant women) is a global goal. Although healthcare workers are essential in the fight against malaria, they cannot succeed without community engagement and household level attitude and behavior change. If communities can be empowered to be at the center of the fight against malaria rather than be seen as simply the end-users of commodities and services, the political will and overall ability to combat malaria will not fade, even if donor funding does.
World Malaria Day represents a chance for all of us to truly make a difference. The day marks the international community’s push towards zero malaria deaths by 2015. We know how to do this; we have the tools – we just need to join together and do it!
Roll Back Malaria website: