The first time the global community observed a day devoted to tackling the problem of malaria was April 25th 2001. This was agreed upon at the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria held in Abuja, Nigeria in 2000. The first seven annual observances were titled “Africa Malaria Day,” and recognized that the largest global burden of the disease affects people on the African continent. As thoughts moved toward elimination, the importance of addressing all endemic communities resulted in the first “World Malaria Day” in 2008.
Thus on April 25th 2017 we are observing the 17th Malaria Day overall and the 10th anniversary of World Malaria Day. This observance has been complimented over the years with a malaria day for the Southern African Development Community and for countries in the Americas.
Each year Malaria Day has had a theme or themes to help focus education and advocacy. Regardless of the theme, the special day has been a time to mark progress and rally partners from the global to community level to continue the fight against the disease. The list below shows some of the issues/themes raised on the past Malaria Days. As noted, in some years advocacy efforts dealt with more than one key idea, though all are not presented.
- 2001 – Africa Malaria Day 2001: The First Africa Malaria Day; Malaria – A Crisis With Solutions; A Malaria Free-World
- 2002 – Mobilizing Communities to Roll Back Malaria
- 2003 – Insecticide Treated Nets and effective malaria treatment for pregnant
- women and young children
- 2004 – A Malaria-Free Future: Children for Children to Roll Back Malaria
- 2005 – Unite against malaria: Together we can beat malaria
- 2006 – Get Your ACT Together: Universal Access to Effective Malaria Treatment is a Human Right
- 2007 – Leadership and Partnership for Results
- 2008 – Malaria, A Disease without Borders
- 2009 – Counting Malaria Out
- 2010 – Counting Malaria Out; (and in the Africa Region) Communities engage to conquer malaria!
- 2011 – Achieving Progress and Impact
- 2012 – Sustain Gains. Save Lives. Invest in Malaria
- 2013-15 – Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria
- 2016-17 – End Malaria for Good
In sum these themes emphasize the importance of access to malaria interventions, documenting that access, using the data to stimulate more investment ultimately leading to an end (elimination) of malaria. The most recent World Malaria Report (2016) provides several important examples of the progress so far.
- Households with least one ITN increased to 79% in 2015
- 53% of the population at risk slept under an ITN in 2015 in Africa increasing from 30% in 2010
- The proportion of suspected malaria cases receiving a parasitological test in the public sector increased from 40% in the WHO African Region in 2010 to 76% in 2015
- In 2015, 31% of eligible pregnant women received three or more doses of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) among 20 countries with sufficient data, a major increase from 6% in 2010
In addition to noting progress, the report also points out gaps in appropriate care seeking for malaria, attendance at antenatal care clinics, and adequate numbers of nets for a household. As implied in the IPTp data, there is the additional problem of obtaining timely and accurate date to document progress and/or gaps. Looking at the Malaria Day themes around investing, we know that unless one can show investors results, it will be difficult to “End Malaria for Good.”