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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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New Anti-Malaria strategy is Vital

By Tiwonge Ng'ona - Malawi

It is the dream of any woman of childbearing  age  to  have  as many healthy babies as possible  I who  will  develop  into  productive and  independent  citizens.  Asiatu Liwago,  35,  a  mother  of  six  from Chief  Mbaluku  Area  in  Mangochi District  on  the  shores  of  Lake Malawi,  had  exactly  that  dream whi le  car rying  her   seventh pregnancy which led to the birth of a  healthy  and    beautiful  daughter, Patuma.
 
But unlike other children of her age in  the  village,  9-year  old  Patuma now  relies  on  her  mother  to perform most vital tasks as the little girl cannot accomplish them on her own.
 
“My daughter was born normal but b e c ame   me n t a l ly   r e t a rd e d   following  an  attack  of  severe malaria,” said Liwago.
 
She disclosed that her daughter was severely  attacked  by malaria  after her  Insecticide  Treated  Net  (ITN) went missing a few weeks after she was  discharged  from  Mangochi
District Hospital.

“I  was  one  of  the  mothers  who received a free net to protect myself and my newly-born daughter  from mosquito bites that could  infect us with  malaria  parasites.  I  was advised  to  always  sleep  in  the  net with my daughter to avoid mosquito bites,” said Liwago.


 
It turned out that one of her children took the net for a fishing adventure one evening and never returned  it.
 
Despite  her  fate,  Patuma  is  lucky because  many  Malawian  children do not survive malaria attacks and most  of  them  die  before  even reaching  the  age  of  five,  as World
Heal th  Organizat ion  (WHO) statistics confirm.

Even  the  children  who  survive malaria  in  Malawi  are  frequently attacked  by  the  disease  before developing  immunity  to  it.
 
In  Malawi  malaria  is  the  number one cause of hospital admissions – 39 per cent - and the leading cause of death among children under five. According to the Ministry of Health  (MOH),    there  are  about  eight million episodes of malaria per year, accounting  for  40   per  cent  of  all outpatient visits.
 
“Many  children  get Malaria  five or six times a year, and 40 per cent of all  children  under  two  years  who die,  die  from  the  disease,”  said Steven  Meshnick  a  professor    of epidemiology  at  the  University  of North  Carolina  (UNC)  School  of Public Health  in  the  United  States (US).

He  said  new  ways  of  controlling ma l a r i a   in  poor   Ma l awi   i s   imperative. The Ministry of Health revealed that 7,000  lives were  lost  in 2008 and 3.8 million cases recorded as a result of malaria attacks.
 
“It's  a  national  health  policy  in Malawi and about 20 other African countries  to  give  intermittent preventive therapy for malaria to all pregnant women in the form of two therapeutic  doses  of  the  anti- ma l a r i a l   drug   sul fodox ine - py r ime thamine ,   ( SP) ”   s a id Meshnick.

He however explained that this drug was becoming less and less effective in  preventing  malaria  which  kills more  people  than  HIV  and  AIDS every year due to the development
of  drug-resistant  strains  of  the parasite.

According  to  a  joint  study  by Meshnick  and    researchers  from Universi ty  of   Melbourne  in Australia  including  a  team  from University  of  Malawi,  pregnant women  co-infected  with  malaria and  HIV,  have  nearly  double  the number  of  HIV  particles  in  their blood  than  pregnant  women  who are  HIV  positive  and  do  not  have malaria.
 
The findings also suggested that co- infection  among  pregnant  women  may  inc rease  thei r   r i sk  of   transmitting  HIV  to  their  unborn baby by 25 per cent.
 
“This work  is  important because  it suggests  that  if  we  can  protect women from malaria when they are pregnant,  we  might  be  able  to reduce  the  likelihood  of  their transmitting  HIV  to  their  babies,” said Meshnick. 

To reduce malaria cases  in Malawi, a vaccine  research  has  been  taking place  at  a  UNC  Project  Centre  in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The research's interim results from the  on-going malaria  vaccine  trial has already demonstrated a 56 per cent efficacy against clinical malaria and  47  per  cent  against  severe malaria for children aged between 5 to  17  months,  according  to  the University UNC Project-Malawi.
 
“The  analysis  comes  from  data collected from 11 sites across seven sub-Saharan  African countries from the first 6,000 children of five to 17 months-old over a 12-month period following  vaccination,”  said  UNC Administrative  Manager  Innocent Mofolo.
 
He disclosed that a total number of children  enrolled  in  the  study  is 15,460  from  all  11  sites  and  in Malawi  1,  628  children  were enrolled  and  they  were  split  into two groups.

“One had 802 children from the age group 5 to17 months and 862 from 6  to  12 weeks.  The  results  of  the study  confirm  that  the  malaria vaccine  reduces  clinical  malaria over  the  first  year  of  follow-up  by half in children aged 5 to17 months, and  that  this  vaccine  has  an acceptable  safety  profile  and  is immunogenic  in  children  in  this category,”  Mafolo  said  adding, “Infants were targeted in the study because  they  are  the  most   vulnerable  to  malaria  infection unlike adults who detect the disease earlier.”
 
UNC's Site Study Co-ordinator and investigator,  Dr.  Rutendo  Mkomo, however, said it has not been easy to conduct  the malaria research.
 
“One of the challenges the study is facing  is  power  cuts  that  alter  the vaccine  trial  which  requires  to  be kept  at  a  certain  temperature,”  he said.
   
The  UNC  Project  is  a  biomedical research  institution  which  started work  on  this  particular  project  in 2009 and  is expected  to end  in 2014.
 
The research is being conducted in rural  and urban  areas of Lilongwe aimed at protecting  young children and  infants  in  malaria-endemic areas against  infection and clinical disease  caused  by  Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly species of  the  malaria   parasite  which  is responsible  for  85  per  cent  of malaria  infections.
 
Development  experts  claim  that malaria is a major public health and economic  burden  in Malawi  as  all Malawians are at risk of contracting the disease.
 
They  say adults  lose an average of  25  working  days  annually  due  to malaria  attacks  which  results  in significant  loss  of  family  income and,  the  cost  of  drugs  to  treat malaria  can  easily  overwhelm family resources, especially those in the  lowest  income categories.
 
In Malawi, it is estimated that low- income  families  spend  more  than one quarter of  their yearly  income to  treat malaria.

Children  under  the  age  of  five, pregnant  women  and  those  living with  HIV  and  AIDS  represent  the most  at-risk  populations  for malaria-related  morbidity  and
mortality.
 
The women and children are mostly at risk of contracting malaria after the rainy season.
The  peak  season  for  malaria transmission  in  Malawi   runs between  November  and  April annually.
 

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