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MALARIA! the fatal disease

malaria-213x300 wcaro_pessay_WMD_Nigeria118Mosquito draws bloodMalaria is spread by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito. The disease can cause fever, chills, and flu-like illness. If it is not treated, it may cause severe complications and death

Malaria is one of the most serious health problems facing the world today. The World Health Organization estimates that over 300 million new cases of malaria arise a year, with approximately two to three million deaths resulting from contraction. Malaria occurs in more than 100 countries and territories. About half of the world’s population is at risk. Large areas of Africa and South Asia and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania are considered areas where malaria transmission occurs. In 2015 an estimated 214 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 438,000 people died, mostly children in the African Region. Malaria is endemic in tropical Africa, with an estimated 90% of the total malaria incidence and deaths occurring there, particularly amongst pregnant women and children. More specifically, malaria is causing various problems in Nigeria.

Despite so many gains in malaria prevention and treatment, the widespread prevalence of counterfeit, substandard medicines is contributing to the alarmingly high number of malaria deaths and costs of health care in Nigeria. An estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year make Nigeria the country with the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide. According to the Nigerian National Malaria Strategic Plan 2014-2020, malaria is responsible for 60 percent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 percent of childhood deaths, 25 percent of deaths in children under one year, and 11 percent of maternal deaths.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. The parasites are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. P. falciparum is the most deadly malaria parasite and the most prevalent in Africa, where malaria cases and deaths are heavily concentrated.

Malaria is caused by four different protozoa in the plasmodium genus: either Plasmodium Vivax, which is more prevalent in low endemic areas, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malaria, and the Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four. The Plasmodium falciparum has a life cycle in the mosquito vector and also in the human host. The anopheles gambiae mosquito is the vector responsible for the transmission of malaria. The prevalence of malaria is dependent on the abundance of the female anopheles species, the propensity of the mosquito to bite, the rate at which it bites, its longevity and the rate of development of the plasmodium parasite inside the mosquito.

When the female mosquito bites and sucks the blood of a person infected with malaria parasites she becomes infected; she then transmits the parasites to the next human host she bites. Malaria incubates in the human host for about eight to ten days. The spread of malaria needs conditions favorable to the survival of the mosquito and the plasmodium parasite. Temperatures of approximately 70 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of at least 60 percent are most conducive for the mosquito. The development of the malarial parasite inside the mosquito is more rapid as the temperature rises and ceases entirely below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Increased rainfall and stagnant pools of water or surface water provide hospitable breeding grounds for the mosquito.

As malaria’s incidence increases, so too will morbidity and mortality rate. Malaria is endemic in Nigeria, and the population at highest risk includes children, pregnant women, and the non-immune. Along with malarial morbidity and mortality come economic losses. Social and economic consequences are directly related to the severity of the malaria’s increased morbidity and mortality. As a result of malaria, children spend days away from school and adults lose workdays. Age distribution of the population also has an effect on the burden of disease. In highly endemic areas, the older population develops some collective immunity to malaria so the severity of malaria attacks is less than in children under five. Plasmodium ovale is less fatal than Plasmodium falciparum. Since Plasmodium ovale is more prevalent in non-endemic areas, in these areas the burden of disease is less than in endemic areas where malaria is due to the fatal Plasmodium falciparum.

WHO recommends a multi-pronged strategy to prevent, control and eliminate malaria. Key interventions include: the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying, diagnostic testing, and treatment of confirmed cases with effective anti-malarial medicines. In recent years, these measures have dramatically lowered the malaria burden in many settings. Malaria transmission continues in many countries around the world however, and causes hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

In order to curb the menace of malaria in Nigeria most especially among the primary school children and eliminate malaria the community, Lifebuilders has reached over 2,250,000 people on malaria issue such as counseling, testing and treatment from the year 2000 till date. Mosquito-netIn recent time Lifebuilders partnered with Society for Family Health to make LLINS available for the community at large. A total of 31,768 LLINs has been distributed within Ibadan, 8,080 of it was distributed to primary School pupils. This has resulted in reduced malaria cases among the school children. Also, 6,000 community members within Ibadan North LGA have been tested for Malaria parasite and those who needed treatment were referred to Basorun Oluwonla PHC. The organisation hopes to reach another 40,000 people on malaria issue before the end of the year 2016, with the help partnership from individuals, government agency, private organisations etc.

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