I know that it is time to dig out my supply of yellow citronella candles when I am spending a nice spring evening outside on my deck, a cold adult beverage in hand and all of a sudden I feel a small pinch on my arm. I look down to find a small, winged creature sitting on my arm, nose deep in my skin and chugging away on my inners. Smack! It is dead, leaving behind only a small pile of insect blood and guts. I brush off my arm and go back to my beverage. My greatest concern of being eaten alive by these bugs is the annoying, itchy, small rash that will appear on my skin and just be a pesky nuisance for the next 2 to 3 days. Usually a few of these bites motivate me to light some candles or simply to just go back inside. At no point in the next week do I worry about a high fever, chills, headaches, sweats, nausea and vomiting, all signs of a Malaria infection.1 Unfortunately for many people, a simple mosquito bite is a huge concern. For some, a single mosquito bite could lead to organ failure, permanent health damage or even death.
Today, Monday April 25th, is the fourth annual World Malaria Day. World Malaria Days is brought to our attention through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals program, which is programA a global action plan to achieve 8 anti-poverty goals by the year 2015. Malaria prevention and treatment falls into this program under the category of the Child Health goal.3
According to their website, “World Malaria Day 2011 is a time for examining the progress we have made towards malaria control and elimination and to renew efforts towards achieving the target of zero malaria deaths by 2015” 3
Living in the US, Malaria is not a major concern for us but other countries are not so fortunate. Malaria on a worldwide scale is an enormous health issue. About half of the human population (that is 3.3 billion people) live in areas at risk of malaria transmission including South America, Central America, South Asia, and Sub Sahara Africa.5 On a global scale, malaria is the 5thleading cause of death.5 In Sub Sahara Africa, malaria is the second leading cause of death from infectious diseases only behind AIDS/HIV.5
Many agencies and programs are out there to help in the fight against malaria. The “Nothing But Nets” program supplies insecticide treated bed nets to families to sleep under at night to prevent the bite of a possible malaria-infected misquitos. Now I am not here to push my personal agenda onto you all, nor preach the high road that you should donate or do charity work. I just want to make people aware that many of these problems do exist, even if we are not directly affected by them. All that I ask is next time you get bit by that mosquito at your family BBQ, stop and pause for a second and just think about the concerns that bite has for so many people.