World Mosquito Day, created on 20 August 1897, marks a world changing discovery made by Sir Ronald Ross, a British doctor working in India who first made the link that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. On unearthing this breakthrough, Dr Ross declared that this day be known as World Mosquito Day. Dr Ross went on to become the first British person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1902.
Dr Ross’s discovery laid the foundations for scientists to better understand the deadly role of mosquitoes which currently infect 250 million people with malaria every year, causing 850,000 deaths.
Today, British scientists remain at the forefront of the fight against malaria, developing cutting edge research and development techniques through leading research units such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
To mark this occasion International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien said:
“World Mosquito Day is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the dangers of malaria, which kills more than 850,000 people every year, all entirely preventable.
“The Government will put the fight against malaria at the centre of its aid efforts and will focus on reducing the appalling death toll in countries across the developing world.”
Tackling the disease
Progress is palpable and a number of African countries including Ethiopia and Rwanda have reduced malaria deaths by at least 50% in recent years. A further 11 African countries including Egypt and Botswana are approaching elimination and in June 2010, Morocco in North Africa was declared malaria free.
A range of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment techniques are needed to ensure this progress continues with the replacement of mosquito nets, malaria testing and medicine all essential. This is underpinned by education for everyone at risk of malaria to ensure people are informed and empowered to live a malaria free life.