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World Mosquito Day: Did You Know This Tiny Insect Causes 24000+ Deaths In India?

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Every year, on August 20th, the world’s scientific community observes the “World Mosquito Day” to pay their respects to the British doctor, Sir Ronald Ross, who, in 1897, discovered that “the female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans“.

The tiny mosquitoes are the carriers of many deadliest diseases, which are responsible for millions of deaths around the world. In 2014, Bill Gates published a blog explaining how mosquitoes are the most dangerous creatures in the world and kill approximately 7, 25,000 people worldwide every year.

In fact, they account for almost 17% of the estimated global burden of infectious diseases. Out of all the deaths that occur due to mosquitoes, Malaria is the worst, killing more than 6,00,000 people every year.

According to the WHO’s World Malaria Report 2019, India accounts for 77% of the total malaria cases in South East Asia. As per the report, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Goa, Southern Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and the North-Eastern states have more number of cases than any other state.

How Mosquitoes Cause Deadliest Diseases

Mosquitoes are the carriers of many bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Mosquitoes, infected with the bacteria, viruses or parasites, bite human beings and subsequently transmit deadly microorganisms into our bodies. And then those microorganisms start waging war on our immune system, causing deaths.

Each year, mosquitoes kill more than 7,25,000 people across the globe with over 24,000 in India; this is way more than any other animal on the planet.

Number of estimated Malaria cases during 2010 to 2018:

5 Deadliest Diseases Caused By Mosquitoes

  1. Dengue Fever: The Aedes mosquito is responsible for this deadliest disease. This disease is prevalent mostly in the tropical and subtropical climates. People who are infected with this disease have initial symptoms like high fever, headache, joint pains and rashes.
  2. West Nile Virus: This disease is caused by Culex mosquito. It is the leading cause of mosquito-borne diseases in the continental United States.
  3. Malaria: Plasmodium Falciparum or Plasmodium Vivax causes it. Only female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit this disease. The viruses that are transmitted to the human body migrates to the vital parts of our body and ruins our daily functioning. The symptoms of this disease include fever, chills, sweating, headache and severe flu.
  4. Yellow Fever: It is caused by Aedes mosquitoes, primarily Aedes aegypti. It is common in African countries. Symptoms of this disease include severe headache, nausea and fever.
  5. Rift Valley Fever (RVF): This is common among people who live with domesticated animals like cattle, buffaloes, sheep, cow and goats, etc. This disease is caused by RVF virus

Who Are The Most Affected People?

In 2019, the World Malaria Report had identified and warned that “the source of Malaria continues to strike hardest against Pregnant women and young children in Africa”. The report is based on the information provided by 80 countries and areas across the globe with ongoing Malaria transmission.

The 2018 World Malaria Report explains that around 228 million people were afflicted with mosquito-borne diseases that killed over 4,05,000 people worldwide. In 2017, the WHO reported that approximately 231 million cases were reported worldwide and warned that sub-Saharan African countries mostly account for a larger share of the diseases’ burden.

The WHO also observed that pregnancy reduces women’s immunity to Malaria, therefore making them more susceptible to the malaria infection and at a higher risk of illness, severe anaemia and death. Further, it identified that maternal Malaria also interferes with the growth of a fetus and increases the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight—a leading cause of child mortality. In this regard, WHO’s Director-General said, “Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable to Malaria, and we cannot make progress without focusing on these two groups.”

How Does Malaria spread? Watch this video to find out:

So, What Can We Do To Prevent The Spread Of Mosquito-borne Diseases?

  • Make sure that water is not stagnated in your surroundings.
  • Try to use insect repellant creams or sprays while you are outdoors.
  • Make sure you use the services of mosquito prevention drives carried by government authorities.
  • Always keep your surroundings clean.
  • Ensure your home windows are tightly closed.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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