Challenges remain in the global fight against this preventable, treatable disease, but significant progress has been made, thanks to efforts by governments and organizations like World Vision.
Half as many children younger than 5 died of malaria in 2012 as did in 2000, the World Health Organization said in its recent World Malaria Report.
Of the estimated 207 million people who had malaria in 2012, nearly 630,000 of them died; about 482,000 were under age 5.
Despite the challenges in battling the disease that threatens half of the world’s population, health authorities are claiming significant progress.
“It is a time to celebrate an amazing humanitarian and public health achievement,” said Robert Newman, director of WHO’s global malaria program, after releasing the report. “But…if you happen to be one of the kids that’s in the part of the glass that’s half empty, then a half-full glass isn’t full enough. And we have to work together to find those resources.”
World Vision and its partners distributed 2.9 million insecticide-treated bed nets in 2012.
Amit Chakraborty uses his mosquito net every night. The young boy from Dhaka, Bangladesh, fears what might happen if he sleeps without the protective cloak draped around his bed.
“It is required,” he says seriously. “If a mosquito bites me, I will get sick of malaria or dengue fever. Downstairs a boy got sick from a mosquito bite. He had to go to the hospital.”
Amit is sponsored through World Vision, so he and his family got help. Still, millions of others remain vulnerable to potentially deadly mosquito bites.
But experts posit that efforts to control the disease prevented as many as 3.3 million deaths in the first dozen years of the millennium. World Vision takes such measures in malaria-endemic regions, including distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, medical care, prevention education, and more.