Malaria remains the world’s most devastating human parasitic infection. World Malaria Day aims to build greater awareness and understanding of the illness, its prevention, treatment and control.
A few numbers
Malaria is an acute febrile illness. The symptoms usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite in the form of fever, headache and chills. If not treated within 24 hours, it can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.
Who is at risk?
Some population groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria, and developing severe disease, than others.
In most cases, malaria is transmitted through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes. They lay their eggs in water, which hatch into larvae, eventually emerging as adult mosquitoes. Each species of Anopheles mosquito has its own preferred aquatic habitat: shallow collections of fresh water, such as puddles, which are abundant during the rainy season in tropical countries.
Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission with the use of:
- insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs)
- indoor residual spraying (IRS)
- antimalarial drugs
For travellers, malaria can be prevented through chemoprophylaxis, which suppresses the blood stage of malaria infections, thereby preventing malaria disease.
For pregnant women living in moderate-to-high transmission areas, WHO recommends intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, at each scheduled antenatal visit after the first trimester.
Similarly, for infants living in high-transmission areas of Africa, 3 doses of intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine are recommended, delivered alongside routine vaccinations.
On this World Malaria Day 2018, let’s spread the word to make sure vulnerable communities are informed of the risks and provided with means of prevention and together we will be able defeat the disease.