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World Malaria Day: 1200 kids die every day from disease, says Unicef

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) raised alarm over the growing rate of malaria-related deaths among children all over the world amounting to what it said more than 1,200 children a day, though a 40% drop since 2000.

The UNICEF report  “Facts about Malaria and Children” ahead of World Malaria Day to show the extensive impact of the disease on children and on pregnant women around the world.

“With a 40 percent 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 Mickey Chopra, UNICEF’s associate director for programmes, and chief of health.

© UNICEF/PFPG2014-1189/Hallahan

According to the latest report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), malaria mortality rates have decreased by 47 percent worldwide and 54 percent in Africa alone since 2000.

Since 2001, it is estimated that more than four million malaria-related deaths have been averted, approximately 97 percent of which have been children under five.

Some 584,000 people died worldwide in 2013 from malaria, with 90 percent of these deaths occurring in Africa. In all there were approximately 198 million cases of malaria worldwide.

Although child deaths from malaria dropped significantly since 2000, children under five still represent 78 percent of global malaria deaths, or 456,000 per year. This means more than 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 percent (3.9 million) were children under five 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.

Eliminating malaria could save economies $270 billion in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

World Malaria Day is commemorated every year on April 25 and recognises global efforts to control malaria. Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria.

In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children. Asia, Latin America, and to a lesser extent the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected.

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.

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