Malaria: A Worldwide Threat

Vivek Baliga

In 2010, the United Nations estimated that roughly half the world’s population was at risk of contracting malaria, a blood-borne disease spread by mosquitoes. Each year, there are over 200 million new cases which result in over 650,000 deaths. At the highest risk are those with weak immune systems—including the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those ill with immune system-compromising diseases. While this disease is widespread, it can be controlled and prevented.

The main preventative for malaria is controlling the mosquito population in malaria-infected areas. Mosquitoes are most prevalent in warm, wet environments. Areas which remain warm throughout the year, with no hard freezes or winter, do not experience annual mosquito population die-off and thus do not have a natural defense against malaria. This seasonal die-off allows infected mosquitoes to die without infecting the next generation who remain in dormant eggs during the cold and hatch in spring. Through the use of insecticides and indoor mosquito netting as well as the draining of stagnant water, communities at risk can significantly decrease malaria outbreaks.

About the Author: Vivek Baliga, a Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds in cardiovascular research, is a dedicated supporter of malaria research and education, including personally traveling to Mangalore, India to educate children on malaria treatment and prevention.


How to Help End Malaria Vivek Baliga

Of all diseases, malaria threatens more of the world’s population than any other. Spread by mosquitoes in warm climates, it is responsible for over 200 million new cases each year with over half a million resulting in death. While malaria is treatable, the majority of those at risk live in such poverty that early diagnosis and proper treatment are often inaccessible.

Organizations such as International Medical Corps, Malaria No More, and Nets for Life work to provide education, preventative assistance, and treatment to those in high-risk areas. So far, Nets for Life has provided over 8 million mosquito nets, protecting over 25 million people, while Malaria No More combines distribution of mosquito nets, medical treatment, and public service announcements through radio and twitter. The International Medical Corps, however, targets malaria as only one part of their efforts to provide medical care and other lifesaving relief to critical areas of the world. Supporting these organizations—and others like them—directly saves lives.

About the Author: Vivek Baliga actively supports disease and disorder research through fundraising, private donations, and personal efforts. Vivek Baliga has traveled to India to teach malaria prevention to children, participated in charity marathons for arthritis, and currently studies at the University of Leeds in pursuit of a Ph.D. in cardiovascular research.