Have you ever wondered why many countries have become malaria-free and others haven’t? Is there a secret or some strategy they used and kept this knowledge to themselves? Have they tried to help countries still suffering and losing children to this parasite? or the fault comes from the suffering countries themselves?
Let’s address this right away
What is malaria?
Malaria is a life-threatening disease. This means that every time you have malaria, there’s a chance you’re going to die from it. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite is released into your bloodstream.
Once the parasites are inside your body, they travel to the liver, where they mature. After several days, the mature parasites enter the bloodstream and begin to infect red blood cells.
Within 2 to 3 days, the parasites inside the red blood cells multiply, causing the infected cells to burst open. The parasites continue to infect red blood cells, resulting in symptoms that occur in cycles that last two to three days at a time.
Malaria is typically found in tropical and subtropical climates where the parasites can live. The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source states that, in 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries.
How many people does malaria kill?
In 2018, there were an estimated 228 million cases of malaria worldwide.
The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 405 000 in 2018.
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.
The African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2018, the region was home to 93% of malaria cases and 94% of malaria deaths. Trusted source
It was worse in 2003 when malaria killed an African child every 30 seconds. Source
It’s a deadly disease and should never be taken likely.
How long has malaria been existing?
Malaria is really really old. The first evidence of malaria parasites was found in mosquitoes preserved in amber from the Palaeogene period that are approximately 30 million years old. Human malaria likely originated in Africa and co-evolved with its hosts, mosquitoes, and non-human primates. But it began to be more pronounced 10,000 years ago. Source
Which countries have become malaria-free?
A lot of countries, some did it as far back as 1970. Europe as a continent has been malaria-free since 1975! Get a more detailed report here
Only four territories in Africa have been certified malaria-free. Algeria is one of them, while Nigeria remains the country with the most cases of malaria in the world, accounting for 25% of global cases! Also, Nigeria has the most deaths from malaria accounting for 19% of global deaths from malaria! Trusted source(2018)
Why many countries have become malaria-free and others haven’t
How did these countries become malaria-free? Secret drugs? Hidden special centers for malaria? They had the cure, all along? No, not at all, far from all these!
We’ll use Europe as a case study to find out why so many countries have become malaria-free and others haven’t, and how African countries can get rid of malaria.
Europe and Malaria
Europe has been malaria-free since 1975 and here’s how they did it
It was a combination of political commitment, financial resources, and heightened surveillance of new cases.
The government took it up as a project to eliminate malaria, released the financial resources, worked with the right health team and they toiled non-stop till they achieved it.
There was mass destruction of swampy mosquito breeding grounds throughout Europe!
They strengthened their public health infrastructure and created more access to medical care (access to doctors and nurses and basic equipment for diagnosing and treating the disease)
Mass distribution of insecticide-treated nets. Every home was mandated to use one and it was provided.
Political collaboration across borders
The surveillance of malaria is still active and powerful. That’s why you can’t have malaria and go to Europe. You’ll be quarantined if caught!
So basically eliminating malaria is very achievable. It just requires the right efforts from the right people. They took all the resources they got and faced it once and for all.
Why eliminating malaria may be difficult in African countries
There is a far more suitable ecological condition for malaria transmission in African countries. The climate in tropical and subtropical countries in Africa is just perfect for mosquitoes.
Species that are far more efficient at spreading malaria
Weaker health systems. Many governments in Africa have never really invested much in the health system. It’s usually overlooked and much isn’t usually done.
Poorer populations. Poorer populations mean bad living conditions, which most times, involves the unhygienic environment, swamps, pools, stagnant water, reminds you of something?
No one has decided to get rid of malaria. The problems above could be overcome if someone wanted to eliminate malaria in the first place. The government of many African countries doesn’t see that as a possible project. We’re just fine with it, as far as we can take the drugs and get well again. Malaria is a norm in many African countries and that’s bad. Remember malaria kills? Remember not every child can afford an anti-malaria medication?
It’s up to you to protect yourself and your family from malaria.
Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. The recommended repellent contains 20-35% percent N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). You can get mosquito repellents at some pharmacies or here
Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants if you are outdoors at night.
Use a mosquito net over the bed if your bedroom is not air-conditioned or screened. For additional protection, treat the mosquito net with the insecticide permethrin.
Spray an insecticide or repellent on clothing, as mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.
Spray pyrethrin or a similar insecticide in your bedroom before going to bed.
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