World Health Day: Key messages

Vectors spread diseases
Mosquitoes, flies, ticks, bugs and freshwater snails can spread diseases that cause serious illness and death.
Diseases are preventable
Diseases such as malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis and yellow fever are preventable, yet they have the biggest impact on some of the
world’s poorest people.
50% of population is at risk
More than half of the world’s population is at risk of these diseases. Increased travel, trade and migration make even more people
vulnerable.
Protect yourself
You can protect yourself and your family by taking simple measures that include sleeping under a bednet, wearing a long-sleeved
shirt and trousers and using insect repellent.
Campaign at a glance
On World Health Day, celebrated on 7 April every year, the World Health Organization draws attention to a public health
problem of global proportions and what needs to be done to address it. The date of 7 April marks the anniversary of the
founding of WHO in 1948.
The theme for World Health Day 2014 is vector-borne diseases.
More than half the world’s population is at risk of these diseases, which include malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis and yellow
fever. The poorest people in the world are the most affected. However, environmental change and the rapid and increased
movement of people and goods around the world means that the risks are now much more widespread.
The World Health Day 2014 campaign focuses on vectors, the diseases they cause and simple precautions we can all take to
protect ourselves and our families.
What are vectors?
Vectors are small organisms such as mosquitoes, bugs, ticks, flies and freshwater snails, that carry disease from person to person
and place to place.
Public health context
Back in the 1940s, the discovery of synthetic insecticides was a major breakthrough in the control of vector-borne diseases.
Large-scale indoor spraying programmes through the 1950s and 1960s succeeded in bringing many of the major vector-borne
diseases under control.
By the late 1960s, many of these diseases – with the exception of malaria in Africa – were no longer considered to be of primary
public health importance. As a result, control programmes lapsed and resources dwindled, resulting in a sharp reduction in
entomologists and specialists in vector control from public health programmes.
Within the past 2 decades, some vector-borne diseases have re-emerged or spread to new parts of the world. Traditionally
regarded as a problem for countries in tropical settings, vector-borne diseases pose an increasing threat to global public health,
both in terms of the number of people affected and their geographic spread.
Combating these diseases requires renewed momentum on a global scale - from global public health agencies, between countries
and within regions, across government sectors, at all levels of government, and within communities and households.

Goal and objectives
Goal
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the threat posed by vectors and vector-borne diseases and to stimulate families and
communities to take action to protect themselves.
Objectives
Families living in areas where diseases are transmitted by vectors know how to protect themselves.
Travellers know how to protect themselves from vectors and vector-borne diseases when travelling to countries where these
pose a health threat.
In countries where vector-borne diseases are a public health problem, ministries of health put in place measures to improve the
protection of their populations.
In countries where vector-borne diseases are an emerging threat, health authorities work with environmental and relevant
authorities locally and in neighbouring countries to improve integrated surveillance of vectors and to take measures to prevent
their spread and proliferation.
Slogan and key messages
The slogan for this year’s World Health Day campaign is "Small bite, big threat".
Key messages
Mosquitoes, flies, ticks, bugs and freshwater snails can spread diseases that cause serious illness and death.
Diseases such as malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis and yellow fever are preventable, yet they have the biggest impact on some of
the world’s poorest people.
More than half of the world’s population is at risk of these diseases. Increased travel, trade and migration make even more
people vulnerable.
You can protect yourself and your family by taking simple measures that include sleeping under a bednet, wearing a long-
sleeved shirt and trousers and using insect repellent.
WHO activities
What WHO will be doing on World Health Day
Providing advice to travellers
Look out for us at London’s Heathrow airport and Washington DC’s Dulles airport on 7 April, where we will be advising
travellers on how to protect themselves from vector-borne diseases while away from home.
Engaging people all over the world
Staff at our Geneva headquarters, and in our regional and country offices all over the world will be organizing and participating
in activities designed to generate engagement, raise awareness and stimulate action to confront the problem of vector-borne
diseases.
Get involved
There are many ways to get involved in World Health Day. Here are some ideas.
Everyone
Check what vector-borne diseases are a threat to you, at home and before you travel
 Talk to your local health-care provider
 Contact your local health or environmental authority
 If necessary, take steps to protect yourself and your family from contact with vectors
J oin in local activities
 Find out what activities are going on in your local area to celebrate World Health Day and join in, or organize your own!
Ministries of health and health authorities
 Organize meetings with environmental and educational authorities to determine what more can be done to protect people from
vector-borne diseases in your country/communities.
 Distribute posters and leaflets about vector-borne diseases, what is being done by authorities to address the problem, and what
action people can take to protect themselves.
J ournalists
 Write articles about vector-borne diseases and its consequences in your country.
 Interview health experts about measures that are being taken at local/national level in support of vector control and protection
against vector-borne diseases.
 Profile individuals in your community who have been affected by vector-borne diseases.
International organizations
 Join forces to inform your constituents about why vector-borne disease is a global health problem and what can be done to
reduce the risks.
Community leaders
 Host discussion groups in your community about the steps people can take to protect themselves from vector-borne diseases,
and to let people know what services are available.

World Health Day 2014: Preventing vector-borne diseases
“Small bite, big threat”
News release
2 APRIL 2014 | GENEVA - More than half the world’s population is at risk from diseases such as malaria, dengue,
leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, schistosomiasis, and yellow fever, carried by mosquitoes, flies, ticks, water snails and other
vectors. Every year, more than one billion people are infected and more than one million die from vector-borne diseases.
This World Health Day – 7 April – WHO is highlighting the serious and increasing threat of vector-borne diseases, with the
slogan “Small bite, big threat”.
The Organization also emphasizes that these diseases are entirely preventable. Newly published "A global brief on vector-borne
diseases" outlines steps that governments, community groups and families can all take to protect people from infection.
“A global health agenda that gives higher priority to vector control could save many lives and avert much suffering. Simple,
cost-effective interventions like insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor spraying have already saved millions of lives,” says Dr
Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “No one in the 21st century should die from the bite of a mosquito, a sandfly, a
blackfly or a tick.”
Vector-borne diseases affect the poorest populations, particularly where there is a lack of access to adequate housing, safe
drinking water and sanitation. Malnourished people and those with weakened immunity are especially susceptible.
Schistosomiasis, transmitted by water snails, is the most widespread of all vector-borne diseases, affecting almost 240 million
people worldwide. Children living and playing near infested water are particularly vulnerable to this disease which causes
anaemia and a reduced ability to learn. Schistosomiasis can be controlled through regular mass treatment of at-risk groups with a
safe, effective medicine, as well as improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Within the past two decades, many important vector-borne diseases have also re-emerged or spread to new parts of the world.
Environmental changes, a massive increase in international travel and trade, changes in agricultural practices and rapid
unplanned urbanization are causing an increase in the number and spread of many vectors worldwide and making new groups of
people, notably tourists and business travellers, vulnerable.
Mosquito-borne dengue, for example, is now found in 100 countries, putting more than 2.5 billion people - over 40% of the
world's population - at risk. Dengue has recently been reported in China, Portugal and the state of Florida, in the United States of
America.
Reports from Greece say that malaria has returned there for the first time in 40 years. This highlights the continual threat of
reintroduction and the need for continued vigilance to ensure that any malaria resurgence can be rapidly contained.
“Vector control remains the most important tool in preventing outbreaks of vector-borne diseases,” says Dr Lorenzo Savioli,
Director of WHO’s Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. “Increased funds and political commitment are
needed to sustain existing vector-control tools, as well as medicines and diagnostic tools – and to conduct urgently needed
research.”
On World Health Day 2014, WHO is calling for a renewed focus on vector control and better provision of safe water, sanitation
and hygiene – key strategies outlined in WHO’s 2011 Roadmap for the control, elimination and eradication of neglected tropical
diseases, which sets targets for the period 2012–2020.