World Malaria day was celebrated yesterday and the theme for this year is “End Malaria for Good.” In my opinion, that is a great theme and it is nice to know that world leaders are working hard at making this a reality. Malaria is a disease from infection spread through mosquito bites. When infected, symptoms often appear within 1-4 weeks; however, it can take one year for it to develop. Symptoms associated with this disease include headache, cough, abdominal pain, chills, and high fever. If it is left untreated, it can become severe resulting ultimately in death.
Malaria is endemic in Central and South America, Asia, South Pacific, Eastern Europe and Africa. In fact, it is a major public health problem in Nigeria. Over 96% of Nigeria’s population is at risk and there are about 100 million cases with over 300,000 deaths per year.
The situation is, however, not totally gloomy. It would interest you to know that a lot of progress has been made in the fight against malaria. Countries, where this disease is endemic, have made a lot of commendable progress and it is important that these advances be sustained. For example, the mortality rates worldwide for this dreaded disease have decreased by over 59% with over 6 million lives saved since the year 2000. Also, thankfully, malaria is no longer the number 1 cause of death among children in Africa. The Nigerian government has also made commendable progress in the fight against Malaria. For example, over US$500 million has been allocated to boost the malaria control programme. These funds have been used to provide over 40 million insecticide treated nets to many households between 2007-2010. Other giant strides have been taken but there is still a lot to be done
While the Nigerian government must do more in the fight against this disease especially by making primary health care services more available, we must not leave the fight to our leaders alone. All hands must be on deck in order to eliminate this disease from the world. Remember, “TOGETHER, WE CAN.”
What is your role in ending Malaria for good?
The elimination of Malaria begins with prevention. This prevention involves taking antimalarial medicines and protecting yourself from mosquito bites. Though it might actually be impossible to totally prevent mosquito bites but the less exposure you have, the better. You can protect yourself from mosquito bites by following these guidelines:
- Avoid staying outdoors whenever it is dark outside
- Always wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts in the evenings especially at nights
- Use insect repellent in your sleeping area and on your skin. Insect repellents are available in creams, roll-ons, sprays and sticks
- Always sleep under insecticide treated nets
Please note that when you start experiencing malaria symptoms, it is always best to see your doctor immediately. Avoid self-medication.
Smallpox was once a major worldwide public health problem but it has now been eliminated through collective effort. The same can happen to Malaria in a few years’ time if we all worked together towards it. Protect yourself from mosquito bites and regularly take antimalarial drugs. Also, educate others around you. Remember, knowledge is power.
Please feel free to share more tips on how to end Malaria in the comment section below.