On April 25th, the World Health Organization released a manual on World Malaria Day to help countries assess the technical, operational, and financial feasibility of moving toward malaria elimination. The new guide, entitled “From Malaria Control to Malaria Elimination: A Manual for Elimination Scenario Planning,” provides countries with a framework to assess different scenarios and timelines for moving toward malaria elimination. Consequently, Face2FaceAfrica has put together important information about malaria and what you need to do to keep yourself malaria-free.
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What Is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, which is transmitted by the bites of infected mosquitoes. It is a potentially life-threatening illness that has been estimated to have about 3 billion of the world’s population at risk and kills another estimated 1 million people worldwide yearly. While it is uncommon in temperate climates, malaria is still very much prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries.
How You Can Catch Malaria
Malaria is transmitted through bites from mosquitoes infected with parasites called “Plasmodium.” There are 5 types of Plasmodium parasites, but the Falciparum type is the most-common and most-dangerous.
How Do You Know You Have Malaria?
Symptoms of malaria usually appear a few days to a few weeks after infection; however, the symptoms and incubation period may vary, depending on host factors (like immunity) and the species of Plasmodium responsible for the infection. Common clinical symptoms include:
- Headache (noted in basically all patients with malaria)
- Shaking chills
- Joints and muscle pains
- Intermittent bouts of fever, shaking chills, and sweats (commonly every 48 or 72 hours)
Less-common symptoms include weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cough, and even jaundice.
How You Can Prevent Malaria
Avoiding malaria involves several steps, which have been streamlined into four, known as the “ABCD” of malaria prevention.
A – Awareness of the risk of catching malaria. Understand the malaria prevalence in the environment you live in or will be visiting, so that way you know how much exposure to the insects you will be facing and you can take adequate preventive measures.
B – Bite avoidance. Avoid mosquitoes like they are the plague. Clear out any stagnant water bodies in your environments, spray your homes with insecticides, sleep under mosquito nets, use window and door nets, cover your skin by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially between dusk and dawn hours, and you can also use insect-repellent creams.
C – Chemoprophylaxis involves the use of preventive drugs. Check if you need to use malaria-prevention tablets, especially if you are a visitor to a malaria-prevalent zone. If you do, make sure you use the recommended dose for as long as prescribed.
D – Diagnosis. Prompt diagnosis is of utmost importance in the treatment of malaria. See a doctor immediately if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms whether you live in a malaria-prevalent area or you’re only visiting.
Malaria is associated with a rapid risk of disability and death and this risk increases with a lack of understanding of any of the ABCD steps.
Can Malaria Be Treated?
Yes, it can, especially if diagnosed quickly and if the right treatment is given immediately. Again, see your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of the above symptoms. Do not indulge in self-medication.
Even though the WHO is working on eradicating malaria on a global scale, our individual efforts also go a long way. Fight malaria, and stay healthy!
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