Bites from mosquitoes, flies, ticks, bugs and freshwater snails cause more than one million deaths a year.
Vectors, organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another, cause serious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, leishmaniasis and yellow fever. These diseases are commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions and in places where there is limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation. These diseases affect more than half of the world's population, but are totally preventable.
Since 2000 the Millennium Development Goals and the Roll Back Malaria campaign have funded programs to control and eliminate malaria. They have reduced the global death rate by 45% and the incidence by 29%, but one uncontrolled wet season will quickly undo the gains made if control measures are relaxed.
There are simple and effective ways to prevent malaria: limiting mosquito-breeding areas of stagnant water, spraying around homes, preventing mosquito bites, sleeping under mosquito nets treated with insecticide, and regular testing and treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies.
The world's fastest growing vector-borne disease is dengue, with a 30-fold increase in disease incidence over the last 50 years. More than 2.5 billion people are now at risk from dengue. The World Health Organization estimates that there may now be 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide every year.
World Health Day (7 April) and World Malaria Day (25 April) are opportunities to consider how simple prevention can go a long way to make the world a healthier place for all.
Caritas Australia, Health
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Global Education, Cholera in Papua New Guinea, Combating malaria in Solomon Islands
Tackling tuberculosis in Kiribati and Geographies of Human Wellbeing
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), World Malaria Day game
World Health Organization, World Malaria Day