This year on World Health Day — Monday, April 7 — the World Health Organization (WHO) is emphasizing the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases. Vector-borne diseases mostly refer to malaria and other neglected tropical diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, sandflies, and other insects, as well as schistosomiasis, which is transmitted by snails.
These vector-borne diseases are some of the most common diseases on our planet and most of them disproportionately affect people living in extreme poverty. The link to poverty reflects the fact that poor people often live in low-quality housing without window screens or air conditioning and are exposed more frequently to the bites of insects. They also live in areas of environmental degradation where vectors flourish.
Almost one billion people each year are infected with a vector-borne tropical disease, and according to new information based on a recently released study, more than 1.2 million people die every year from vector-borne diseases. To put this number in perspective, the number of people who die annually from vector-borne diseases is almost as high as those who die from HIV/AIDS.