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World to celebrate Malaria Day on April 25

On April 25, the world will commemorate World Malaria Day with the theme, “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria.”

World Malaria Day, instituted by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session in May 2007, is a special day recognizing global efforts to control malaria. It is an opportunity for countries in the affected regions to learn from each other's experiences and support each other's efforts; for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria; for research and academic institutions to flag their scientific advances to both experts and general public; and for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to scale up what has worked.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The disease results from the multiplication of malaria parasites within red blood cells, causing fever and headache, and in severe cases progressing to coma and death.

Globally, malaria is a problem in 109 countries. Most of the people at high risk of getting malaria live in Africa and South-East Asia.

According to the World Malaria Report 2011 of the World Health Organization (WHO), there were about 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655,000 deaths in 2010 compared to the 225 million malaria cases and 781,000 estimated deaths in 2009.

In the Southeast Asian Region, WHO reported 28 million estimated cases with 38,000 estimated deaths in 2010, substantially lower than the 34 million estimated cases and 49,000 estimated deaths in 2009.

Reduction in the number of cases were due to heavy investments in malaria control in the past years. In Africa alone, $4 billion is invested annually to control malaria. Number of deaths has been cut by one third within the last decade. However, WHO said these gains are still weak unless malaria will continue to be a health priority for global, regional and national decision-makers and donors. Aid for national malaria control programs needs to continue to ensure widespread population access to life-saving and cost-effective interventions.