By Arabella Gilchrist
Director, Creative + Comms at Malaria No More UK
Originally posted on the Huffington Post Blog
Smelly feet? Marmite? Myths abound about what attracts or repels the tiny but deadly mosquito. The internet is awash with misnomers so this World Mosquito Day (20 August), we’ve decided to cut through the conspiracy theories with a fun listicle.
The wily mosquito has been stalking mankind for over 210 million years and tragically still kills a child every minute. However, the last decade has seen huge progress with child deaths halved since 2000 and 26 countries on track to eliminate malaria.
World Mosquito Day commemorates a turning point in the global fight against malaria. It marks the historic discovery by British doctor and Nobel Prize winner Sir Ronald Ross, that it is the female Anopheles mosquito that transmits malaria between humans. This wasn’t just an abstract scientific discovery, but one that laid the foundations for scientists across the world to better understand the deadly role of mosquitoes in the transmission of the disease.
Since Ross’s discovery all those years ago there have been many developments in effective and cost effective prevention and treatment including bednets to prevent mosquito bites and rapid diagnostic tests to help diagnose malaria early. Such scientific endeavour continues today with the first malaria vaccine in final stage trials. This will provide another key tool in our fight against malaria.
Some of the more serious myths or misperceptions that also need debunking may not necessarily be those that are cited in cyberspace. What isn’t a myth but a fact is that if investment in the fight against malaria drops, our unprecedented progress and momentum could be seriously derailed. The price paid would be unthinkable. History has repeatedly shown us the deadly consequences of prematurely ending or halting anti-malaria programmes results in catastrophic resurgence. We must accelerate forward with sustained and increased political, private sector and public support so that the day where malaria becomes no more really becomes a reality.
The UK government, British business and scientific research is playing a leading role in the global fight against malaria and ensuring that no parent anywhere goes through the agony of losing a child to a disease that costs less than a cup of tea to treat.
So, do garlic and marmite keep mozzies at bay? Afraid not. Do mosquitoes like sweet blood? No. It’s the odours on our skin, especially sweat, which they are attracted to. Can we be the generation to beat malaria? Absolutely.
To donate and find out how you can help make malaria no more visit Malaria No More UK or show your support by treating yourself to a Malaria No More bracelet from Jack Wills—100% of profits are helping beat malaria.
Photo: Sanofi Pasteur