The world’s deadliest animal…what is it?
Probably something ferocious, right? We often hear about shark attacks, people being trampled by hippos or snatched by crocs, poisoned by snake bites. In light of recent events, maybe our first thought drifts towards the fellow human— gun toting and angry.
While all of these are undoubtedly the cause of numerous deaths each year, they don’t even come close to being the deadliest. In fact, the deadliest animal kills 250,000 more humans annually than its next closest competitor. So…what is it?
That’s right, a teeny, tiny mosquito is the world’s most dangerous killer, responsible for several million deaths around the world every year.
Mosquitos are carriers of malaria, dengue and yellow fever and can also transmit lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and Japanese encephalitis. Each year, 3.9 billion people worldwide are at risk of Dengue infection, 120 million are infected with elephantiasis, and 3.2 billion are at risk of contracting malaria.
3.2 billion people at risk for malaria every single year. Malaria is considered endemic in 91 countries, meaning nearly HALF of the world’s population is at risk. When we do the math, 90% of these cases in these countries occur in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, of the nearly 430,000 malaria deaths reported in 2015, around 387,000 (90%) of them occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Mozambique, the prevalence rate of malaria is 40.2%, making it the number one killer at the national level, accounting for 29% of all deaths. In Tete, the provincial prevalence is 30.4%. While are provincial rates are significantly lower than national rates, malaria is still endemic and numbers of annual cases/deaths are disproportionately high.
In an effort to reduce cases of malaria on a national level, the Mozambican Ministry of Health and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMIS, a US aid program) are partnering up with provincial organizations to distribute insecticide treated mosquito nets to every household in Mozambique. Treated nets are one of the most effective prevention methods, showing a 50% reduction rate in the incidence of malaria.
Starting last spring, trained teams of volunteers and community activists have been responsible for going out into their communities, tirelessly walking from door to door in every corner of their districts, to register every household ensure that everyone in the district has a mosquito net to sleep under.
The distribution has been moving from the north of the country to the south; Tete was the most recent province to participate. As the distribution works it’s way down, PCVs across Mozambique have been involved in helping organize logistics, register households, and distribute nets.
The goal of the campaign is 100% coverage, but more than that, it’s eliminating malaria. It’s working towards the day that not a single Mozambican dies from a preventable disease. It’s working towards the day that not a single human dies from a preventable disease, and it’s going to take all of us to make that day a reality.
*Sources: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/vector_ecology/mosquito-borne-diseases/en/, http://www.who.int/gho/malaria/en/