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When it comes to global killers, malaria is one of our planet's deadliest perpetrators. In fact, half of the world's population -- 3.2 billion people -- is at risk. In 2016, one child died from malaria every two minutes.
Like so many of our most pervasive diseases, malaria is even deadlier for women and children.
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This year, the World Health Organization is calling on the global community to "end malaria for good" by lowering the global malaria burden over the next 15 years, and reducing malaria death rates by at least 90%. We still have a long way to go, but the end of the malaria epidemic may finally be in sight, and could even be achieved within our lifetime.
Mosquitoes are re-emerging as a serious North American health threat as carriers of the West Nile Virus. In the developing world, mosquitoes pose an even more menacing danger. There, they transmit malaria, the deadliest disease borne by any insect or animal anywhere. This year, malaria deaths are expected to spike upwards, after more than a decade of steady decline. The reason: Ebola. The fragile health systems in West Africa have been stretched to the limit in the Ebola fight, and routine measures to combat malaria have gone by the wayside.
Mosquito bites mean something different in many parts of the world. Working for an international aid and development agency, I've learned about the dangers of malaria, an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. On World Malaria Day, I think about the millions of children who have no bug spray -- not ever.
On World Malaria Day, it's important to remember that half a million children die each year from malaria -- through no fault of their own. Those under age five are especially vulnerable, as their bodies haven't yet developed immunity to deadly infection.
It was recently World Malaria Day, and there is news about the disease. A pilot project is trying to reach more people with ACT, the latest anti-malarial medication, by selling it at a subsidized price in local shops. The majority of poor malaria sufferers buy medicine at such corner stores, where it is sold off the shelf along with cooking oil and sugar.