The legendary Bruce Lee once said:
“Under the sky
Under the heavens
There is but one family.”
This is the reason why I, someone who lives in a malaria-free country, is acknowledging World Malaria Day. So should you. We cannot ignore a disease that killed over 400,000 members of our global family in 2019 (67% of whom were children).
Living in a malaria-free country is not an excuse to ignore the issue and there’s a good reason for that: Malaria-free countries may not stay that way. COVID-19 has shown how unpredictable diseases can be, how they can quickly spread to every corner of the Earth and bring even seemingly invincible countries to their knees.
Australia, in particular, is in a vulnerable position. Almost every country in the Asia-Pacific region (which Australia is in) experiences endemic levels of malaria. The Asia-Pacific region is home to a diverse range of malaria parasites, some of which are resistant to drugs. Some species of malaria-spreading mosquitoes in the region are resistant to insecticides. Not to mention, the high volume of people movement around the Asia-Pacific region (pre-COVID, of course) increases the risk of spreading.
Although malaria doesn’t get the headlines that COVID-19 does, its threat to us is equally dire.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Optimism is a key theme of World Malaria Day and the world has made a lot of progress against the disease. The number of malaria cases and deaths around the world has been declining since the year 2000, according to the World Malaria Report 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Over 100 countries have been declared malaria-free by WHO – the most recent one being El Salvador in February of this year. Malaria vaccines are currently being developed along with many other research projects aimed at finding effective preventions and cures.
Eliminating malaria from the face of the Earth is possible but it won’t happen without global awareness and investment. I urge you to join us in recognising World Malaria Day. Spread the word on social media, maybe buy a mosquito net for a family in need or message your local representative – tell them about your malaria concerns and why the government should support the fight against it. Your global family will thank you.
Markos Hasiotis was a Results advocate in Melbourne. He works as a writer/researcher for several outlets and his goal is to spread beneficial information to as many people as possible and counteract harmful mistruths. He also volunteers in the sustainability and mental health sectors.
Image Source: Global Fund