All you need to know about the disease called Malaria but to start with, how can Malaria be defined? Malaria is an intermittent and remittent fever caused by a protozoan parasite which invades the red blood cells and is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and it’s one of the most common infectious diseases and a global public health challenge.
As we all know, Malaria is seen as a life-threatening disease caused by a parasite especially in children. It is usually transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
The parasite that causes Malaria is a microscopic, single-celled organism called Plasmodium. Malaria is predominantly found in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Africa, South America and Asia.
Based on facts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Malaria is one of the most deadly diseases we have in Nigeria especially among infants and children. Malaria is a life-threatening disease and it’s usually transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito.
According to Punch Nigeria, while the people of Sri Lanka, a middle income country like Nigeria, will be rejoicing over the successful eradication of malaria from their country, Nigerians are still preoccupied with procuring drugs for treatment as the disease is still endemic in the country.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with a population of 182 million and the richest in terms of GDP in the continent, is burdened with the highest morbidity and mortality from Malaria.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria’s share of the global burden of Malaria stood at 27 per cent with 24 per cent of global Malaria deaths. Malaria also accounted for 11 per cent of all pregnancies and birth-related deaths in Nigeria.
Eighty per cent of those who die from the deadly fever are children under the age of five from mostly poor families and poverty remains a major contributing factor to the disease. Malaria is a major promoter of endemic poverty, hence the nickname ‘the disease of poverty.’
Most of the efforts made in the past by governmental and non-governmental agencies such as the Global Fund, the WHO, United Kingdom-DFID, Presidents Malaria Initiative, Canadian Government, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Faith-based organizations and other stakeholders with genuine interests in eliminating the disease have created pockets of scattered programs across the country, lacking necessary nationwide coordination with a unified goal.
Symptoms of Malaria
The symptoms and signs of Malaria include; fever and flu-like illness, chills, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur.
Malaria may cause anemia and jaundice (yellow fever) because of the loss of red blood cells and if not promptly treated, the infection can become severe and may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma and death.
Methods of preventing Malaria include; anti-malaria drugs, use of insecticides, use of insecticides-treated bed nets. Though, many scientists all over the world are working on developing an effective vaccine to prevent Malaria.
Travelers can prevent Malaria by using anti-malarial medications, using anti-mosquito sprays or lotions, and sleeping under a permethrin-treated bed net.
Malaria should be treated early in its course, before it becomes serious and life-threatening. There are several good anti-malarial drugs that are available and should be taken in the early stage. The most important step is to go see a medical doctor if you are sick or have recently been in an area with malaria, so that the disease is diagnosed and treated right away.
All Malaria infections are serious illnesses and must be treated as a medical emergency. In addition to suggested anti-malarial medication, it will be advisable to use a treated mosquito bed net and effective repellents to avoid the bite of the nocturnal Anopheles mosquito.
. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
. World Health Organization (WHO)
. IAMAT Nigeria