International Day of the Girl Child 2022
11 October marks the International Day of the Girl Child. The day highlights the needs and challenges girls face, while aiming to promote girls' empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. Today, we explore the particular challenges posed by malaria for girls, and initiatives to help address them.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, malaria remains among the leading causes of death and illness among adolescent girls. (In 2019, the disease was the fifth cause of ill-health among adolescent girls in the region, aged 10 to 19 years).1
This is unacceptable for an illness that is both preventable and treatable.2
Over the last 20 years, tremendous progress has been made against malaria in South and South-East Asia, with malaria cases reduced by 78% and deaths by 75%. However, the burden of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria, especially in young girls, remains a challenge to malaria elimination and reaching the SDG target 3.3 to end malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis.3
While malaria-related deaths among children under 5 years old in both Africa and Asia-Pacific fell by 12-13% from 2012–2016, they fell by only 3-4% among adolescents, underscoring the need to ramp-up protection for this group.4
Malaria in pregnancy is one of the major causes of death among adolescent girls.5
One dose of intermittent preventative treatment for malaria in pregnancy (IPTp), given each month from the second trimester of pregnancy, can protect the life of a pregnant adolescent girl. Join the campaign to ensure that pregnant girls receive IPTp.6
To eliminate malaria among adolescent girls we must engage them as active agents of change, communicating with them at school and in the communities to empower them seek malaria prevention and treatment, thus reducing #malaria in young people.
A mix of public, private and community-based approaches is needed to achieve coverage among adolescent girls living in remote areas and overcome malaria in this at-risk group.7
Engaging and empowering community health workers to distribute health interventions, including IPTp to prevent malaria in pregnancy, will also help protect adolescents, who are among the most at risk for illness and death from malaria.
As there are no recommended treatments for the radical cure of P. vivax malaria during pregnancy, increased investment is needed for research and development of innovative tools to protect both women and adolescent girls from malaria in pregnancy.8
Slide 1- Antje Mangelsdorf; Slide 2- Antje Mangelsdorf; Slide 3- Maud Lugand/MMV; Slide 4- Toby Madden/Transaid; Slide 5- Elizabeth Poll/MMV; Slide 6- Ben Moldenhauer/MMV; Slide 7- Antje Mangelsdorf; Slide 8-Anna Wang/MMV ; Slide 9- Damien Schumann; Slide 10-Daniel San Martin/ MMV
1. UNICEF, Adolescent Health Dashboard. April 2021.
3. Poku-Awuku, A., Banerji, J. Buj de Lauwerier, V., Menendez, C., Gonzalez, R., and Pons-Duran, C. Eliminating malaria in southeast Asia requires more attention on adolescent girls. Lancet Child and adolescent health, comment, volume 5, issue 12, p841-843, December 01, 2021; UN Sustainable Development Goals Indicator Repository. Accessed 4th July 2022.
4. Poku-Awuku, A., Ferazzi, S., Halil, K., Majeres-Lugand, M., Buj de Lauwerier, V., Pons-Duran, C., Lai, J., Menéndez, C., and González, R., Increasing access to malaria interventions for adolescent girls is an important step toward malaria elimination. GHTC Blog. Accessed 6th July 2022; WHO, Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and ageing data portal. Geneva: World Health Organization. Accessed 6th July 2022.
5. RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Let's protect more expectant mothers and their babies from malaria! (open letter).
7. Mwangangi, M. Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health, Kenya. Protecting adolescents against malaria virtual event. March 2022.
8. WHO, WHO Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria. 3rd edn. World Health Organization, Geneva April, 2015.