Burdens Of Malaria

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Introduction

Malaria is a mosquito-borne parasitic infection. The concerned parasites are subspecies of plasmodia. Malaria is treatable though it can be fatal if diagnosing is delayed. The disease spreads when an infected female mosquito bites a person, contracting the plasmodium. The disease initially presents with fever, chills and headache among other symptoms.

Global Burden

According to the World Health Organization in 2017 there were 219 million Malaria cases worldwide. In 2018 cases climbed to 228 million cases. The incidence rate of malaria declined globally between 2010 and 2018, from 71 to 57 cases per 1000 population at risk.

However, from 2014 to 2018, the rate of change slowed dramatically. In those 4 years it remained on a similar level. In 2018, there were an estimated 405 000 deaths from malaria globally, compared with 416 000 estimated deaths in 2017, and 585 000 in 2010. Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. In 2018, they accounted for 67% (272 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

African Burden

Malaria is widespread throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Africa carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden, both in terms of total malaria cases and malaria deaths. In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is the leading cause of death for children under five. Infection during pregnancy, particularly among new mothers, increases the risk of maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, and low birth weight. In addition to loss of life, malaria places an economic burden on African nations.

In 2017, most of the 219 million cases of malaria worldwide were in the WHO African Region. With an estimated 200 million cases those accounted for 92% of global cases.  Five countries accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases worldwide.  Four of these were in Africa: Nigeria (25%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (11%), Mozambique (5%), and Uganda (4%).

It is estimated that malaria costs Africa US$12 billion per year in direct costs and reduces GDP growth by 1.3 percent annually2. The burden is carried mostly by poor, rural families that have less access to current prevention and treatment services.

Economic Burden

Some people are more vulnerable to malaria than others.  Partial immunity to malaria can develop over years of exposure.  As young children have not had the opportunity to build up this partial immunity, they are particularly at risk. They make up the majority of fatal cases of malaria in the WHO African Region.

As well as having a significant human cost, the effects of malaria extend far beyond direct measures of morbidity and mortality.  Malaria can reduce school attendance, productivity at work. There is evidence that the disease can also impair intellectual development.

The economic costs are also significant.  Between 1965 and 1990, countries in which a large proportion of the population lived in regions with malaria experienced an average growth in per-capita GDP of 0.4% per year. In other countries, average growth was 2.3% per year.

What should be done?

Already more than 90% of global Malaria cases are in Africa. Tanzania is also among Malaria endemic countries. The fight to a Malaria free world is a collective measure, we are all in it. In order to lower the burdens of Malaria our focus should be on prevention and vector control. Below are some of the measures to be done and emphasized:

  • Using treated mosquito nets. Households with at least one treated net for every two people increased to 72% in 2018, from 47% in 2010.
  • Indoor residual spraying (IRS), a prevention method that involves spraying the inside walls of dwellings with insecticides. Globally, IRS protection declined from a peak of 5% in 2010 to 2% in 2018. Declining trends are seen across all WHO regions apart from the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region.

  • To protect women in areas of moderate and high malaria transmission in Africa, WHO recommends Intrapartum Preventive Therapy (IPTp) with the antimalarial drug sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP).
  • In addition, mosquito breeding sites can be reduced for example by minimizing standing water in our communities and cutting grass short.

Conclusion

We encourage not to take Malaria lightly and pay attention to yourself and those you love. Malaria can be fatal to anyone. Particularly vulnerable are pregnant women and children under 5 years old.

We recommend pregnant mothers to attend all their antenatal clinic visits. For children especially, ensure they are using treated mosquito nets. If a child develops a fever do not wait for long and get him/her checked out.

Visit a nearby health care facility or book appointment with one of our Medical Doctors, write to us on contact@urbancare.clinic

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