WORLD MALARIA DAY, 25th April 2018
The world marks World Malaria Day this year with the theme, “Ready to Beat Malaria”, a reminder of the common goal shared by the global community of fighting and eradicating Malaria.
This year’s World Malaria Day coincides with the start of a year-long series of activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of WHO.
The Global Malaria Programme will mark this special occasion with the publication of a series of malaria-focused interviews with leaders and advocates in the global response to malaria. The interviews will be published on 25 April on the WHO website.
Over the years, there has been tremendous progress globally in the fight against Malaria. However, according to the 2017 World Malaria Report, progress has stalled because of a significant increase in Malaria cases. In 2016, there were 216 million cases, an increase by 5 million from 2015. The reported deaths in 2016 were 445,000.
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: