Today marks World Health Day 2014 and the focus this year is on the nasty and often life-threatening bites from mosquitoes, flies, ticks and bugs (also known as vector-borne diseases).
Small Bite, Big Threat
The theme of this year’s global awareness day is ‘small bite, big threat’ which aims to highlight the very real threats faced – in fact the World Health Organization (WHO) advises that 40% of the global population are at risk from contracting dengue – a truly astonishing figure. And Leishmaniasis (spread via sandflies) affects around 1.3 million people every year.
WHO are working on a series of campaigns to raise awareness of the bugs that spread these potentially serious diseases, including mosquitoes, ticks, bugs, flies and freshwater snails. If left untreated, these diseases can, and do, result in death. What’s more alarming is that diseases such as malaria, Leishmaniasis, dengue and yellow fever are actually preventable. Some of the poorest people in the world are at risk, as well as travellers and those migrating.
FACT: Each year more than half a million people are admitted to hospital with severe dengue and 2.5% of those people die.
FACT: Malaria kills 627,000 people every single year.
FACT: Infected sandflies spread Leishmaniasis, which kills around 30,000 people every year.
Simple steps can be taken to protect yourself from contracting diseases by wearing long sleeved tops and long trousers. Use a high strength insect repellent at all times and sleep beneath a netted canopy. When travelling, research your destinations in good time and ensure you receive any recommended immunisations. Carry a basic first aid kit with you and make sure you have enough repellent for your journey.
World Health Day 2014
The day was established in 1950 to coincide with the founding date of WHO on 7 April 1948 and each year the campaign focusses on a different global health issue.
People all over the world are encouraged to get involved with World Health Day, via education and participation in local events and by fundraising.
Previous campaigns have focussed on ‘Healthy heart beat, Healthy blood pressure’ and ‘Good health adds life to years’.
More information, facts and details from WHO.