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World Health Day 2014 - Small Bite, Big Threat


As the global community marks the World Health Day today, World Health organization (WHO) is highlighting the serious and increasing threat of vector-borne diseases to human health, especially through Mosquito bites; with the slogan “Small Bite, Big Threat”.

World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. Each year a theme is selected that highlights a priority area of public health. The Day provides an opportunity for individuals in every community to get involved in activities that can lead to better health.

This year’s theme focuses on the need for people to be health conscious, particularly as vector-borne diseases continues to threaten human health.

According to WHO, more than half the world’s population is at risk from diseases such as malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, schistosomiasis, and yellow fever, carried by mosquitoes, flies, ticks, water snails and other vectors. Every year, more than one billion people are infected and more than one million die from vector-borne diseases.

For instance, based on WHO’s latest estimates released in December 2013, there were about 207 million cases of malaria in 2012 and an estimated 627 000 deaths. Most deaths according to the report, occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria.

Vector-borne diseases affect the poorest populations, particularly where there is a lack of access to adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation. Malnourished people and those with weakened immunity are especially susceptible. Schistosomiasis, transmitted by water snails, is the most widespread of all vector-borne diseases, affecting almost 240 million people worldwide. Children living and playing near infested water are particularly vulnerable to this disease which causes anaemia and a reduced ability to learn.

These diseases are entirely preventable. WHO is therefore calling for a renewed focus on vector control and better provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

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