World Malaria Day is an international observance commemorated every year on 25 April to recognize the global efforts made to control malaria. It was established in May 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly. It aims to educate the people on the implementations of national malaria-control strategies, including community-based activities for malaria prevention and treatment in endemic areas.
WHO recommends a package of proven prevention approaches, including insecticide treated nets, spraying indoor walls with insecticides, and preventive medicines for the most vulnerable groups: pregnant women, under-fives and infants.
This year, WHO is placing a special focus on prevention, a critical strategy for reducing the burden of a disease that continues to kill more than 400 000 people annually.
World Health Organisation's theme for this year is ‘ending malaria for good’.
What is Malaria
Malaria is an intermittent and remittent fever caused by a protozoan parasite which invades the red blood cells and is transmitted by mosquitoes in many tropical and subtropical regions. It is often by infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Malaria caused by the falciparum parasite is the most serious, and can lead to breathing problems, liver failure, coma and eventual death.
Causes of Malaria
Malaria is caused by the bites from the female Anopheles mosquito, which then infects the body with the parasite called Plasmodium. The mosquito bite introduces the parasites from the mosquito's saliva into a person's blood which infects the red blood cells.
When an infected mosquito bites a human host, the parasite enters the bloodstream and lays dormant within the liver. For the next 5-16 days, the host will show no symptoms, but the malaria parasite will begin multiplying asexually.
Symptoms of Malaria
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), malaria symptoms can be classified in two categories: uncomplicated and severe malaria.
Uncomplicated malaria is diagnosed when symptoms are present, but there are no clinical or laboratory signs to indicate a severe infection or the dysfunction of vital organs. Individuals suffering from this form, can eventually develop severe malaria if the disease is left untreated, or if they have poor or no immunity to the disease.
The symptoms typically last 6-10 hours and occur in cycles that occur every second day, they are and can be undiagnosed .
Uncomplicated malaria typically has the following progression of symptoms through cold, hot and sweating stages:
- Fever, headaches, and vomiting (seizures sometimes occur in young children)
- Sweats followed by a return to normal temperature, with tiredness.
- Sensation of cold, shivering
Symptoms of severe malaria include:
- Fever and chills
- Impaired consciousness
- Prostration (adopting a prone or prayer position)
- Multiple convulsions
- Deep breathing and respiratory distress
- Abnormal bleeding and signs of anemia
- Clinical jaundice and evidence of vital organ dysfunction
Malaria can be controlled through the use of insect repellent, insecticide-treated mosquito nets,prompt treatment of confirmed cases with artemisinin-based combination therapies, the use of strategies promoting awareness of malaria and the importance of control measures, avoidance of stagnant water as it is the breeding place of mosquitoes.