“In the entire animal kingdom, the mosquito occupies a special place as receptacle for our hatred and disgust.” Reporter Archie Bland said this, and I couldn’t agree more.
It’s safe to say the mosquito is the most hated creature on the planet.
There are some terrifying creatures in our world. Lions and snakes and crocodiles, oh my! Sharks even get their own week of the year. But how often do we associate fear with the mosquito? Perhaps we should because they are far more deadly.
According to the Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization in 2014, no other animal even comes close to killing as many humans as mosquitoes do – not even other humans. Humans kill approximately 475,000 other humans per year. The mosquito?
The mosquito is estimated to kill over 725,000 per year!
In Africa, it has, and continues to be, deadly due to the transportation of malaria. In 2015, there were 214 million cases globally, with 438,000 of these resulting in death. Of these deaths, 90 percent occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and sadly, 78 percent of these deaths are children under the age of five.
Given its negative impact on the globe, doesn’t it seem the best option would be to obliterate all mosquitoes everywhere?! What good do these annoying little pests serve, anyway? I’m not the only one asking that question, yet scientists and other researchers have determined this isn’t feasible and shouldn’t be the goal. Most experts believe it would be too costly, impractical and would take an unpredictable toll on the environment.
All in all, there are nearly 3,500 types of mosquitoes and only 200 of those bite us, even fewer of those carry diseases. It’s actually the female Anopheles mosquitoes who are responsible for carrying malaria. The other types of mosquitoes serve a critical role in the ecosystem, often a food favorite of fish and other important species higher up the food chain.
Annihilating all mosquitoes is not a rational or reachable goal. But what can we do to fight back? In developed countries, malaria has been eradicated, partially due to better-sealed housing, urbanization, and sleeping arrangements off floors, as mosquitoes do not like to fly far from the ground.
We at Compassion will continue to work around the local context of the child. It’s unrealistic to say we can build a brand new, better-sealed house for each of our beneficiaries, given cost, land rights, and a myriad of other obstacles.
I often get frustrated by the obstacles stacked against those in poverty, mosquitoes being one of them. Will we ever win the battle against this deadly creature? The key is consistency and focusing on what we can do, versus getting overwhelmed by all those obstacles out of our control.
We CAN provide households at risk with treated mosquito nets and educate families on malaria prevention.
We CAN offer mosquito repellant and education for pregnant mothers in Latin America at risk for contracting the Zika Virus.
We CAN continue to treat those beneficiaries and their families suffering from malaria, Chagas disease, dengue fever and Zika virus.
Next time we’re annoyed by a mosquito, let’s pause to consider how billions around the globe are at serious risk because of this hated little beast. It may not have huge jaws like a shark, poisonous venom like a snake, or teeth tearing through flesh like a crocodile. No, it’s far less sensational – but at three-quarters of a million deaths annually, it is far more deadly.
Mosquitoes may always be with us, but let’s fight strategically and do all that we can to diminish their impact.