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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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GOOD DIET CAN CHECK malaria IN CHILDREN

By Sade Oguntola, Nigeria

Mothers may be doing their children a lot of favour by giving them foods rich in Vitamin A, selenium and zinc because  they  are  supplements  that  can  protect  children from having malaria, especially the severe malaria.

Common food items such as mango, potatoes, carrot, lettuce and oranges abound in the market and are rich sources of such nutrients for both children and adults.

In Africa alone, a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds and there is yet no effective vaccine against malaria that could save them from developing malaria or its severe complication. However, experts studying the problem that is more prevalent in children and pregnant women suggest that a good diet can help  prevent  malaria  in  children  at  least  given  that  a substantial proportion of malaria-related illnesses and deaths among children are related to deficiencies in diet.
 
According  to  researchers  at  the  Johns  Hopkins  Bloomberg School  of  Public  Health,  deficiencies  in  dietary  iron,  zinc, vitamin  A  and  folic  acid  appear  to  increase  the  threat  that malaria poses to child health. These vitamins and minerals are important to the human body's immune system, but are often scarce in areas where malaria is common.

The researchers estimated that zinc and vitamin A deficiencies in children under five may each be responsible for about 20 per cent of malaria deaths in that age group every year   a total of nearly 400,000 deaths. Ninety per cent of the deaths due to vitamin A deficiency are in Africa, they say.

The team, led by Laura Caulfield, an associate professor at the school's  Centre  for  Human  Nutrition,  reviewed  data  from Ghana,  Guinea-Bissau  and  Senegal,  and  found  a  strong  link  between malnourishment and the likelihood of malaria being fatal in children under the age of five.  Even mildly malnourished children were twice more likely to die from malaria than children who are not undernourished. For children with severe malnutrition, the risk of death from malaria was nine times greater than in those who were well  nourished.
 
The  research  findings,  published  in  the  American  Journal  of Tropical  Medicine  and  Hygiene  suggested  that  being  well  nourished  enables  children  to  mount  a  strong  immune response and beat the infection.

Several  scientists  have  also  corroborated  the  role  of  eating right if the effects of malaria in children are to be curtailed.  A study published in the Internet Journal of Tropical Medicine in 2006  pointed  out  that  even  when  the  child  has  malaria,  its combination  with  iron  supplements  considerably  improved the  effectiveness  of  its  treatment,  thus  making  the  child recover faster.

The study of the effects of vitamin A and iron supplementation was  among  Cameroonian  132  preschool  children  aged between 6 and 60 months and when the deficiency of vitamin A and iron was corrected in these children with malaria, there was  a  remarkably  improvement  in  ability  to  recover  from malaria.

Experts  have  traced  the  benefit  of  vitamin  A  to  its  ability  to inhibit  the  development  of  Plasmodium  falciparum, responsible  for  malaria,  under  laboratory  conditions,  they reported this   in the 2004 edition of the Journal Experimental Parasitology.  Vitamin  A  and  iron  supplements  does  not  only help to reduce the deficiency caused by Plasmodium, they also facilitate the restoration of the haemoglobin level as well as the production of red blood cells, resulting in the improvement noted in children receiving iron supplementation.

Zinc deficiency has also been hypothesized to aggravate malaria because it is required in ensuring good immune response to infectious disease.

Vitamin A improves the absorption of iron in the intestine, thus helping to hasten the process of blood formation required in the  fight  against  anaemia  in  infants  as  well  as  in  pregnant women.

Though there is yet the need for further researches to optimize the use of vitamin A and other micronutrients in the treatment of malaria, the researchers however recommend to everyone living in malaria endemic region a usual consumption of food sources  of  these  micronutrients  as  papaya,  yellow  potato, carrots, yolk and liver, considering the virtues of vitamin A and iron in the malaria prevention and treatment.

While  malaria  often  afflicts  populations  that  are  both impoverished and malnourished, a large portion of the burden of malaria falls upon the most vulnerable within the population
- children and pregnant women.

Nutrition  plays  a  major  role  in  maintaining  health,  and malnutrition  appears  to  generate  vulnerability  to  a  wide variety of diseases and general ill health. In a case where a child is  undernourished,  he  or  she  may  be  unable  to  mount  an appropriate immune response to the malaria parasite due to the already lowered immunity.

Equally  having  a  diet  rich  in  zinc  or  zinc  supplementation  is helpful.  Zinc  deficiency  has  also  been  hypothesized  to aggravate  malaria  because  it  is  required  in  ensuring  good immune response to infectious disease. Studies that investigated the relationship between zinc status and  malaria  also  showed  a  protective  effect  of  zinc supplementation.  In  The  Gambia,  the  110  children  who received 70 mg of zinc supplementation twice a week for 15 months had 32 per cent fewer malaria-related clinic visits than did the placebo group.

A randomized trial in Papua New Guinea involving 274 found a 38 per cent reduction in clinic visits for malaria in the group that  received  10  mg  of  elemental  zinc  supplementation  six days  a  week  for  46  weeks  compared  with  a  placebo  group. Current intervention strategies focus on zinc supplementation, fortification  of  locally  acceptable  foods,  and  dietary modification to consume greater amounts of animal products and fewer fiber and phytates.

Good and nutritious meals, no doubt, are critical to protecting children against the fatalities associated with malaria and all care givers should make it a point to watch what children eat.

 

“Malaria kills and its main victims are children and women. We can stop this scourge so people can live with dignity and go to work and school”

Youssour N’Dour

 

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