World Health Day 2014: Combating vector-borne diseases


World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of World Heath Organization (WHO) in 1948. Each year a theme is selected that highlights a priority area of public health. The Day provides an opportunity for individuals in every community to get involved in activities that can lead to better health (WHO, 2014).

The theme/topic for 2014 anniversary is vector-borne diseases.

To download and read A global brief on vector-borne diseases by WHO, click here.

Summaries on Vectors and Vector-born diseases (Adopted from WHO)

  • Vectors are organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another.

  • Vector-borne diseases are illnesses caused by these pathogens and parasites in human populations.

  • The most commonly known vectors are :

    • mosquitoes, sand flies, bugs, ticks and snails.

  • The above vectors are responsible for transmitting a wide range of parasites and pathogens that attack humans or animals. Mosquitoes, for example, not only transmit malaria and dengue, but also lymphatic filariasis, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever.

  • They are most commonly found in tropical areas and places where access to safe drinking-water and sanitation systems is problematic.

  • The most deadly vector-borne disease, malaria, caused an estimated 660 000 deaths in 2010. Most of these were African children.

World Malaria Report 2013 is accessible here.

  • The fastest growing vector-borne disease is dengue, with a 30-fold increase in disease incidence over the last 50 years.

  • 40% of the world’s population is at risk from dengue (2014)

          To learn more about Dengue, click here.

  • More than half of the world’s population is at risk of these diseases. Increased travel, trade and migration make even more people vulnerable.

Goal: better protection from vector-borne diseases

The campaign aims to raise awareness about the threat posed by vectors and vector-borne diseases and to stimulate families and communities to take action to protect themselves. A core element of the campaign will be to provide communities with information. As vector-borne diseases begin to spread beyond their traditional boundaries, action needs to be expanded beyond the countries where these diseases currently thrive.

More broadly, through the campaign, WHO member states are aiming for the following:

  • families living in areas where diseases are transmitted by vectors know how to protect themselves;

  • travelers know how to protect themselves from vectors and vector-borne diseases when travelling to countries where these pose a health threat;

  • in countries where vector-borne diseases are a public health problem, ministries of health put in place measures to improve the protection of their populations; and

  • in countries where vector-borne diseases are an emerging threat, health authorities work with environmental and relevant authorities locally and in neighboring countries to improve integrated surveillance of vectors and to take measures to prevent their proliferation.


WHO, 2014. Retrieved on 1 April 2014 from

CDC, 2014. Retrieved on 1 April 2014 from


Malaria Maps Reveal that 184 million Africans still live in extremely high-risk areas (The Lancet)

malaria map by lancet
Source: The Lancet

A KEMRI-Wellcome Trust research team led by Dr. Abdisalan Noor and Professor Robert Snow have recently produced malaria maps by geocoding data from surveys in 44 African countries and territories endemic for malaria in order to identify which populations were at risk of the disease in 2000 and 2010. According to the findings by the research team, ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Guinea, and Togo together account for 87.1 percent of areas that have the highest prevalence of malaria. Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria (2013) have some of the highest malaria prevalence and 40% malaria deaths in Africa. (Noor et al, 2014, RBM, 2013).

To download and read a publication by The Lancet Medical Journal on malaria infection in Africa, click here.

The Global Partnership for a Malaria Free World’s Roll Back Malaria (RBM), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the World Health Assembly  and many other initiatives have helped reduce malaria related deaths and infections over the past several years. Despite substantial reductions in malaria transmission that have been achieved in endemic countries of Africa over the 2000 – 2010 period, more than 184 million people still live in extremely high-risk areas. Fifty seven percent of the population in 2010 continued to live in areas where transmission remains moderate to intense and global support to sustain and accelerate the reduction of transmission must remain a priority. (Noor et al, 2014, p. 8).

To download and read World Malaria Report 2013, click here.

Key Malaria Facts (according to RBM):

Cases (2012) : 207 million globally

Deaths (2012) : 627,000 (90% of all malaria cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and 77% occur in children under five)

Population at risk : 3.4 billion

Affected countries (2013) : 97 have ongoing malaria transmission, 80% of estimated malaria deaths occur in 18 most affected countries, and 40 % of malaria deaths occurs in Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Progress  (2000 – 2012) : malaria mortality rate was reduced by 45% globally

Required Health Expenditure: USD 5.1 billion every year. In 2012, the global total of international and domestic funding for malaria was US$ 2.5 billion

Economic Cost : USD 12 billion per year in direct losses, a lost 1.3% of GDP growth per year in Africa

Costs of interventions:

  • Long-lasting insecticidal net that lasts three years: USD 1.39 per person per year of protection
  • Course of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for an adult: USD 0.90 – 1.40
  • Course of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for a young child: USD 0.30 – 0.40
  • Rapid diagnostic test: US$ 0.50

For a complete list of malaria facts by RBM, click here.