NEW YORK, 23 April 2015 – Ahead of World Malaria Day, UNICEF’s ‘Facts about Malaria and Children’ shows the extensive impact of the disease on children and on pregnant women around the world.
“With a 40 per cent reduction in child deaths from malaria since 2000, this year’s World Malaria Day is an important marker in how far we have come,” said Dr Mickey Chopra, UNICEF’s Associate Director, Programmes, and Chief of Health. “However, the deaths of close to half a million children a year are a sobering reminder that without increased efforts and investments this disease will remain a challenge to us all for a long time to come.”
Facts about Malaria and Children
Some 584,000 people died worldwide in 2013 from malaria, with 90 per cent of these deaths occurring in Africa. In all there were approximately 198 million cases of malaria worldwide.
Child deaths from malaria have fallen by 40 per cent since 2000, but children under 5 still represent 78 per cent of global malaria deaths – or 456,000 per year. This means over 1,200 children die every day from malaria – about 50 children every hour.
Between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million lives were saved by improved access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Of these, 92 per cent (3.9 million) were children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa.
Protecting pregnant women is crucial in the fight against malaria. Malaria in pregnancy contributes significantly to deaths of mothers and young children, estimated to amount each year to 10,000 women and up to 200,000 infants under one year old.
Strategies to prevent malaria in pregnancy are simple and inexpensive: intermittent preventative treatment (IPTp) costs 12 cents per dose (less than 50 cents for the full course of 4 doses) and Insecticide Treated Bednets (ITNs) now cost only $5 – including delivery.
Antenatal care visits are the perfect opportunity to deliver IPTp to pregnant women, however, access to these visits is low and inequitable. Only 4 in 10 pregnant women in rural areas receive the recommended four ante-natal care visits, versus 7 in 10 women in urban areas.
Administering IPTp during antenatal care can reduce neonatal mortality by 31 per cent, and low birthweight by 43 per cent. However more than 3 out of 4 pregnant women in endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not receive IPTp, which translates to approximately 28 million live births in 2014 that were not protected against malaria.
While being richer increases the likelihood of receiving preventive treatment for malaria during pregnancy, overwhelmingly pregnant women in malaria-endemic countries do not receive the recommended care, whether they are rich or poor. Over 70 per cent of the wealthiest women and 80 per cent of the poorest do not receive care.
In some countries, IPTp coverage in rural areas is half or less that in urban areas: o In Togo, 2 out of 3 urban women receive treatment, versus 1 out of 3 rural women o In Senegal, Mozambique, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Chad, rural coverage is half that of urban coverage.
Eliminating malaria could save economies $270 billion in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
This year’s World Malaria Day theme is “Invest in the future: Defeat Malaria”. UNICEF will be issuing messages on social media for World Malaria Day 2015 with the hashtag #defeatmalaria
“No child should die of malaria. No child and no pregnant woman should be denied access to effective and readily available treatment because of where they live, or how poor they are,” Dr Chopra added. “Deaths from malaria are preventable and it is up to all of us – governments, the international community, health professionals, or donors – to put measures in place to defeat this devastating disease once and for all.”
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