Celebrating World Health Day 2014
7 April, 2014
On the 65th World Health Day, we reflect on the challenges posed by vector-borne diseases.
Today is World Health Day. An annual event since 1950, the day is used each year to highlight a theme of global importance to health and healthcare. The theme for this year’s World Health Day, the 65th, is vector-borne diseases – those that infect humans via small organisms, such as mosquitos, sandflies and ticks. Malaria, dengue fever, leishmaniasis and yellow fever are all examples of vector-borne diseases.
Vector-borne diseases kill a million people globally each year, and over half of the world’s population is at risk. Preventative measures vary from vaccination, the application of insect repellent and the use of window screens and bed nets.
Reducing the impact of vector-borne disease is not only a matter of global public health, but also has significant implications for global development and prosperity. Malaria, one of the most deadly vector-borne diseases, is most dangerous to small children under five and pregnant women. Deaths accruing from malaria in traditional societies and developing countries (where such impact is most keenly felt) can have catastrophic impact on the demography of entire communities, curtailing economic growth as the number of healthy adult workers reduces. Some experts place economic losses due to malaria alone as high as 12 billion (USD) annually.
Wilton Park has an established history of convening international discussions concerning global health issues, including work on vector-borne diseases. In 2009 and 2012 we hosted discussions on the containment and elimination of malaria around the world and the new tools and techniques being employed to this end. Both of these events highlighted the need for more sustainable funding mechanisms in support of malaria control and elimination programmes, and the need for more domestic contributions. For more on the fight against malaria, keep an eye out for World Malaria Day on 25 April.
Vector-borne diseases remain a considerable impediment to the health and wellbeing of millions of people worldwide. In the future, Wilton Park will continue to contribute to ongoing national and international efforts to mitigate the impact of these diseases.
Conference: Malaria: getting to zero