World Health Day – Small Bite, Big Threat!

World Health Day is celebrated each year on April 7 and marks the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), its sponsor. It is an opportunity for the WHO to draw worldwide attention to major important global health issues and this year’s theme is vector-borne diseases — diseases that are spread from one living organism to another.

Watch WHO’s video for this year’s World Health Day:

More than half of the world’s population is at risk from vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, schistosomiasis and yellow fever. They are carried by mosquitoes, flies, ticks, water snails and other vectors. These diseases affect the poorest populations, especially where there is a lack of adequate housing, safe drinking water and effective sanitation.

Credit: WHO

Credit: WHO

Malnutrition and weakened immune systems also increase susceptibility to vector-borne diseases and infect more than one billion people, killing more than one million each year. The heartbreaker is that WHO says theses diseases are entirely preventable. WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan says “simple, cost-effective interventions like insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor spraying have already saved millions of lives.

Credit: WHO

Credit: WHO

Here are some key facts to remember:

  • Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 1 million deaths annually.
  • More than 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries are at risk of contracting dengue alone.
  • Malaria causes more than 600 000 deaths every year globally, most of them children under 5 years of age.
  • Other diseases such as Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
  • Many of these diseases are preventable through informed protective measures.

Over the past two decades, many vector-borne diseases have re-emerged or spread to new parts of the world. The WHO says an increase in funds and political commitment are needed to sustain existing vector-control tools and to conduct research.

Stay Safe. Know Before™.

The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team

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This entry was posted in Awareness, Safety.