Communitarian approach best weapon against malaria and other epidemic

02Nov 2019
The Guardian
Communitarian approach best weapon against malaria and other epidemic

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting, and headaches.

In severe cases it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death. Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.  If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later.  In those who have recently survived an infection, reinfection usually causes milder symptoms. This partial resistance disappears over months to years if the person has no continuing exposure to malaria.

It is caused by single-celled microorganisms of the Plasmodium group. The disease is most commonly spread by an infected female Anopheles mosquito.  The mosquito bite introduces the parasites from the mosquito's saliva into a person's blood.  The parasites travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce. Malaria is typically diagnosed by the microscopic examination of blood using blood films, or with antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests

The risk of disease can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites through the use of mosquito nets and insect repellents, or with mosquito control measures such as spraying insecticides and draining standing water.  Several medications are available to prevent malaria in travellers to areas where the disease is common.   Despite a need, no effective vaccine exists, although efforts to develop one are ongoing    It is recommended that in areas where the disease is common, malaria is confirmed if possible before treatment is started due to concerns of increasing drug resistance.  Resistance among the parasites has developed to several antimalarial medications; for example, chloroquine-resistant   has spread to most malarial areas, and resistance to   has become a problem.

The disease is widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions that exist in a broad band around the equator.  This includes much of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria worldwide resulting in an estimated 445,000 to 731,000 deaths.  Approximately 90 pc of both cases and deaths occurred in Africa.  Rates of disease have decreased from 2000 to 2015 by 37 pc ,  but increased from 2014, during which there were 198 million cases.   Malaria is commonly associated with poverty and has a major negative effect on economic development.  In Africa, it is estimated to result in losses of US$12 billion a year due to increased healthcare costs, lost ability to work, and negative effects on tourism.

The international donors has reached their target of €12 billion to fight malaria and other pandemics. The Global Fund reached its target after French President Emmanuel Macron's last-ditch fundraising proved fruitful for the organisation.

We also believe  eradication depends on a  change of attitude towards the disease, thus   calling the fight against malaria  multidimensional and multifactorial .

In Africa, the first factor for the propagation of malaria is the unsanitary conditions. Wastewater, domestic animal breeding, and illiteracy also contribute to the disease spreading . We need more mobilisation,   big communication campaigns, and awareness if we want to eliminate malaria by 2030.   Capacity building with more agents on the field fighting the disease in the communities is also a requisite for its elimination.  If all those factors are together, then   we can decrease even if we don’t eliminate completely. We will have results close to 100 per cent.

If there is enough funding, we will be able to develop our countries (in Africa) and retain the people crossing the Mediterranean in the pursuit of a better life. We can stop that, but there needs to be investment in Africa and the partners who work to improve public health.

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