Malaria in Africa

Malaria in Africa has not been adequately addressed.Even where Governments have taken time to roll out prevention strategies,these are never sustainable.

With the just concluded Global Malaria Day celebrations on 25th April, it is sad noting that children and pregnant women are still dying from this curable disease.Strategies to eradicate Malaria in Africa continue to remain elusive several decades later.

Malaria in Africa:Much needs to be done

It is sad noting that malaria continues to impact on the socio-economic status of nations  in the midst of the following simple preventive measures:

  • Taking prophylactic treatment when visiting a malaria zone
  • Using treated mosquito nets
  • Maintaining a clean and damp-free living environment
  • Eating a healthy balance to ensure one has a strong immunity

Malaria  in Africa: Statistics

Did you know that:

  • Every 45 minutes, an African child dies as a result of malaria?Malaria in Africa
  • Malaria in Africa accounts for close to 25% of all child related deaths
  • Everyone is at risk of getting malaria in Africa?
  • Approximately 1,000,000 people die from malaria in Africa  annually?
  • Close to $1.8billion was directed towards malaria intervention programmes out of the expected $6 billion?
  • An insecticide treated mosquito net needs to be replaced every 3 years?
  • Countries are required by 2015 to have put measures in place to foster attainment of zero malaria infections?
  • There are 35 countries in Africa, Kenya included that have high malaria burden?
  • Most countries don’t have consistent historical data to show the trends of  malaria in Africa?
  • Most public health facilities are not adequately stocked with malaria prophylactic treatment, which results to people seeking natural/herbal therapies?
  • Most malaria drugs can be dispensed off the counter, yet most of the chemist owners are not well informed on the types of drugs that are recommended as first line or second line?
  • Some of the malaria-fighting trees and herbs are at the verge of extinction due to deforestation?

Malaria in Africa:Kenya

Malaria remains to be a killer disease in Kenya especially among children, elderly and pregnancy women.

Did you know that:

  • Half of the population is at risk of malaria in Kenya?
  • Kenya is a chloroquine resistant malaria zone?
  • More than 170 million man hours are lost as a result of malaria infections amongst the working class each year?
  • 20% of all deaths in children under 5 years  are due to Malaria infection?
  • Malaria in Kenya accounts for 30-50% of all outpatient and 20% of all inpatient in public and private health facilities?
  • Malaria prophylactic treatments can be obtained off the counter?
  • There are herbal regimens being used to treat malaria?
  • The Kenyan government is aiming at having a malaria free country by 2017?

In Kenya,cases of malaria are high between March to May and October to December.

What visitors need to know about Malaria in Africa 

Cases of malaria in Africa  have been found to increase before and during rainy seasons.

Malaria in Africa is a preventable disease, and as such all those planning to visit Africa need to put the following precautionary measures into use:

  • Inform your doctor in advance about your intended trip.use nets
  • Specify the country in question so that your doctor is able to prescribe the correct prophylaxis
  • Start taking your prophylactic treatment at least 6 weeks before traveling to Africa
  • Adhere to the dosage  given whilst in Africa
  • Sleep under a mosquito treated net during your stay, whether in a  hotel or camping site
  • Carry or buy a mosquito repellent. These are  readily available in most shopping outlets
  • Close your hotel windows before dusk and spray your room with an insecticide
  • If you plan to stay out late or take an evening walk, always remember to wear trousers and long sleeved tops.
  • Seek timely medical advice from any doctor in a public or private health facility if you experience any of the following symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Vomiting(continuous)
    • Frequent bouts of diarrhoea
    • Persistent headache
    • Flu-like symptoms
      • sweating
      • tiredness
      • abdominal pain
      • loss of appetite
      • nausea
      • cough

Malaria in Africa and Pregnancy 

Pregnancy reduces an individual’s immunity. Hence need for pregnant mothers to take necessary precautions that include what eat, travel destinations, etc

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is not recommended for pregnant women to travel to malaria prone zones in Africa.

This is so because they cannot benefit from certain prophylactic treatment which are known to cause still births, miscarriage, and in extreme cases, maternal deaths.

It is therefore paramount for all pregnant women seeking to travel to Africa, Kenya included to seek medical advice.

What next?How do we mitigate the effects of malaria in Africa 

According to the Millennium Development Goal 6, countries should aim at having a 2/3 reduction in mortality rates for children under 5?

African governments have a lot to do to achieve this.

In my view the following strategies can be employed to achieve zero malaria incidence in Africa:

  • Distribution of insecticide treated nets be integrated with immunization programmes and ANC programs
  • HIV programmes involved in delivery of home based counseling and testing, be utilized by stakeholders to distribute nets especially to these with compromised immunity
  • Every child enrolled in primary school to be given a mosquito treated  net
  • All HIV positive patients in malaria zones ought to receive nets together with their ARVs
  • Commission reforestation of  trees that have  medicinal value with key focus on malaria

Visit the CDC website for more information on malaria in Africa

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