Speech by Dr. Olivé on the occasion of World Malaria Day
Speech by Dr. Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative to Viet Nam
Around half of the world's population is at risk of malaria –
Those most at risk live in lower-income countries.
It infects more than 250 million people per year and kills more than 1 million people - most of them are children under 5 years of age.
That means there were almost 3,000 deaths from malaria each day.
Every one of these deaths is preventable.
Malaria can also cause other health problems, such as anaemia in children and pregnant women, leading to spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths.
In May 2007, the 60th World Health Assembly with the participation of 193 member states recognized the need for further increasing public awareness about malaria and its great ability to cause illness and death.
The World Health Assembly established World Malaria Day on 25 April every year to remind people about the dangers of malaria and to mobilize community involvement in malaria control all over the world.
It is a day when we can unite to honour the global effort to provide effective control of malaria around the world.
World Malaria Day represents a chance for all of us to make a difference.
It is a Day of Hope: By working effectively with partners and communities at all levels, we can win the fight against malaria.
This year’s World Malaria Day marks a critical moment in time.
The international malaria community has only two years left to meet the 2010 targets of delivering effective and affordable protection and treatment to all people at risk of malaria.
In Viet Nam, we have much to celebrate today. During the last 10 years, Viet Nam has achieved great successes in malaria control with the number of cases reduced by 85% (from 383,000 malaria cases in 1998 to 60,400 cases in 2008) and the number of deaths reduced by 87% (from 183 deaths in 1998 to 25 deaths in 2008). This is really a great accomplishment when you consider that in the 1990s there were thousands deaths of malaria per year.
But just one death from this preventable and curable disease is one too many. In Viet Nam there are still challenges.
- As people move between endemic and malaria-free areas in the country and along the borders with Laos and Cambodia, there is the chance for malaria to spread
Not everyone has personal protective measures.
- Malaria is endemic mostly in the Central Highland Region where the grass-roots level health care system and limited socio-economic conditions make prevention and treatment difficult.
In 2008, a quarter of the country's malaria parasites were found in 5 provinces in Tay Nguyen region.
- Another complication is that malaria vectors are showing a tendency to change their behaviour and to be less sensitive to insecticides.
Malaria parasites are resistant to most of the traditional anti-malarial drugs.
While new drugs are effective, there is a high risk that resistance to those drugs may occur because people don't follow the treatment recommendations or don't have access to recommended combinations of the medicines.
- And finally, the awareness of self protection from malaria in a part of population is still low and people don't practice safe behaviours. For example, the proportion of people who use bed nets is still low, despite the fact that bed nets are available in their households.
However, there is strong commitment from authorities at all levels a sustained budget investment from government in the National Malaria Control Programme, and support from the international community.
But most importantly, with your help -- we can ensure that the achievements Viet Nam has made in controlling malaria during the past years will be sustained.
WHO is confident that malaria will be rolled back, and malaria will even be eliminated in future.
We hope that this meeting to celebrate World Malaria Day will be a strong motivation for malaria control in Tay Nguyen Highland, in the Central areas, and in the whole country.
On this occasion, we wish you all good health and great success for further achievements of National Malaria Control in Viet Nam.