Today, we mark World Malaria Day. I would like to join the world in remembering the millions of people who have died from malaria or who have suffered from malaria this past year.
Nearly half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. Although mortality rates have been decreasing since 2010, in 2015 an estimated 429,000 people still died of malaria. Aside from death, malaria also causes huge productivity loss, declining school attendance, and hinders effective economic development for many countries in the global South.
Urbanisation and malaria are inextricably linked, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where low-income peri-urban areas see the high rates of the disease. The New Urban Agenda recognizes the need to tackle malaria and other vector-borne diseases; citing the critical importance of ensuring that addressing key health issues is a central component of leaving no one behind, and a central component of sustainable urbanisation. This is also a key factor in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Although important advances in available treatments have decreased mortality rates, longer term management of the disease will increasingly rely on the resources of local authorities and communities to monitor and take action to prevent out-breaks. Improved housing design and control of breeding sites in the peri-domestic environment are two important preventive elements.
By helping to implement urban rules and regulation, UN-Habitat can contribute to producing and managing efficient and healthy cities. Urban plans and infrastructure that promote malaria vector eradication; upgrading slums and focusing on low-income communities; and supporting local authorities, are only a few ways malaria can be tackled.
UN-Habitat is a partner in the Building out vector-borne diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa Network (BOVA), an interdisciplinary network focusing on preventing vector-borne diseases through improving the built environment. Since inception, UN-Habitat has also been an active member of the Roll Back Malaria campaign.
Today, UN-Habitat joins the World Health Organization in their fight to eradicate malaria.
A multi-sectoral action framework for malaria:
A consensus statement on housing and malaria: