WORLD MALARIA DAY, 25th April 2019
The world marks World Malaria Day this year with the theme, “Zero malaria starts with me”, a reminder of the common goal shared by the global community of fighting and eradicating Malaria.
After more than a decade of steady advances in fighting malaria, progress has levelled off. According to WHO’s latest World malaria report, no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths in 2017, at 435 000, remained virtually unchanged over the previous year.
Urgent action is needed to get the global response to malaria back on track – and ownership of the challenge lies in the hands of countries most affected by malaria. On World Malaria Day 2019, WHO joins the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the African Union Commission and other partner organizations in promoting “Zero malaria starts with me,,” a grassroots campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care. Source WHO
At risk populations
Anyone can get Malaria but some people are at higher risk they include:
- Pregnant women
- Children under age 5
- Immunocompromised individuals e.g. those living with HIV/AIDS
- Migrants/Travellers from non-endemic regions
Malaria is preventable and one should take preventive measures when travelling to high burden areas. In Kenya, high burden areas include:
- the western/ Lake Victoria region of Kenya – this includes but is not limited to: Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kakamega, Busia
- the coastal/ Indian Ocean region – this includes but is not limited to: Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi, Lamu,Kwale, Diani, TaitaTaveta
Nairobi is a low risk area and according to WHO, fewer than 1% of people in Nairobi harbor the Malaria-causing parasite. This therefore means that one does not require Malaria prophylaxis when travelling to or residing in Nairobi.
Preventive measures include:
- Getting Malaria prophylaxis before travel – This is available at the UN clinics. It is also available at local hospitals and pharmacies. Drugs used in prophylaxis include:
- Using long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets (LLINs)
- Using mosquito repellent on skin that is exposed.
- Leave as much skin unexposed as possible when outside from dusk to late hours. This can be through, wearing long-sleeved clothes, and clothes that cover the legs.
- Environmental management – this involves drainage of stagnant pools of water as they tend to be breeding sites, larvicide treatment of habitats, and clearing bushes around the home
- Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) for those residing in high transmission areas. This can be effective for 3 months and even up to 6 months depending on the insecticide formulation.
- A vaccine for young children, ‘Mosquirix’, is under study in pilot projects in Kenya, Malawi and Ghana this year and may have a potential as an effective vaccine against malaria.
Signs and Symptoms
- Muscle aches
- Joint pains
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Most people begin to present with symptoms from 10-15 days and in some instances even up to 4 weeks. They may occur singly or in combination.
In severe cases, when malaria becomes advanced, symptoms may include:
- Prostration – inability to sit upright, stand or walk without support
- Severe Anaemia
- Jaundice (very common in adults) – yellow discoloration of skin and whites of the eyes
- Convulsions - also known as seizures
- Cerebral Malaria (very common in children)
- Hypoglycaemia – low blood sugar
- Kidney failure
- Respiratory distress
- Alteration in level of consciousness – from drowsiness to coma
If one has travelled to the high burden areas listed above, if or when symptoms begin to present, it is advised that you visit a health facility as soon as possible
Diagnosis and Treatment
Suspected Malaria cases should be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing i.e. microscopy or Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) before commencing treatment. However, treatment on the basis of symptoms may be considered in the absence of diagnostic tests.
Treatment is done using Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT). Prompt treatment is necessary not only for the health of the patient but also for the prevention of transmission to those around them.
Malaria is curable. Early diagnosis and treatment can save your life.
For more information about Malaria, please visit: