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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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RECKONING WITH HOUSEHOLD REALITIES

The size of households is a  crucial determinant  of  the  success  or failure in the fight against malaria. And experts have said that the scaling-up of  interventions  in  homes  to  prevent transmission  from  mosquito  bites  is important  because  household  matters have a  close link with the spread of the disease.

In fact, behaviour change  campaigners in sub-Saharan Africa may well add the fact that social changes like decreasing house hold sizes are key factors needed to  subdue malari a and  eventually eradicate the hideous killer of pregnant mothers and children  under five years old.

This realisation has actuated  stake-holders  to  demand  more  funding  and research  to  uncover  other  effective preventive tools so African countries like Ghana and Nigeria can enjoy a 75 percent reduction  of  malaria  cases  as  other countries have done in line with the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership targets for 2015.

The  year 2015 is just months  away. A year that the Roll Back Malaria partnership is targeting that the malaria-specific Millennium  Development  Goal  (MDG) should be achieved so the disease would no  longer be a major cause of  mortality and a barrier to socio-economic development anywhere in the world.

Judging however from available figures, some African countries are  still a long way  from  elimination.     Last  year's World  Malaria  Report  said  between 2000 and 2012, the scaling-up of interventions helped to reduce malaria incidence  rates  by  31%  in  the  WHO African Region. But,  there is room for more  innovative  solutions  to  contain the disease.  

A  report  by  the  Roll  Back  Malaria partnership and United Nations Development Programm e (RBM/UNDP) analysed the social and environmental determinants of malaria within the society and household levels among  other  factors,  and  noted  that endemic  malaria  disappeared  from most  of  Northern  Europe  and  North America as a result of various  factors such  as socio-economic  development,better and less-crowded housing, closed windows, improved land drainage  and a reduced tendency for people to live close to their livestock.  

According to the report, malaria did not disappear from these areas as a result of direct  vector  or  chemo  prophylactic control. It also cited a study in Finland to assess the long-term impact of different different factors assumed to affect malaria trends. It said studies showed that long- term  social changes, such as land consolidation and decreasing  house- hold size, had the strongest correlation with the decline and  eventual eradica- tion of malaria in that country.

A recent study has fuelled more debate on  household  size  and  other  related matters. The  research, published in a Science Daily report, said Guelph Economics Professor, Ross  McKitrick, and two Finnish  Professors, Larry and Lena Hulden, found that when average household size drops below four persons, malaria extermination is much more likely.

It said the research team examined data on  malaria  insect  vectors,  as  well  as demographic, sociological and environmental factors for 232 countries.

The  study  reportedly  showed  that better malaria control might come from segregating household sleeping arrangements. Malaria eradication was found to be related more to household size  than  to  a  country's  wealth  or temperature, according to the study co- authored by the University of  Guelph Professor.

"When we controlled for all the variables, the factor that had  the most explanatory power on  malaria control was  household  size.  Malaria-bearing mosquitoes  mainly feed at night, and tend to return to the same location for blood  meals.  The  more  people  who sleep  in  one  area,  the  greater  the likelihood  of  an  infected  mosquitospreading  the parasite to a new, uninfected  victim,”  the  report  quoted McKitrick, as saying.

“It  is  a  common  misconception  that malaria is a tropical disease, and  with 90  per cent of malaria deaths  taking place in Africa, it is easy  to  see why people  believe  this.  But  historically, malaria  has  occurred  in  all  climate zones  including  the  Arctic,  and  was
endemic in North America and Europe a hundred years ago. ”

“In many cases, the disease disappeared even in countries that made no efforts efforts to fight it,  while others that tried to eradicate  it  failed.  We  found  declining average household size key to explaining this pattern,” he argued.

The  report  said  researchers  looked  at factors such as gross domestic  product per  capita  income,  urbanization  and slums, latitude, mean temperature, forest coverage,  national DDT use, household size  and even religion. Adding that countries with a significant  Muslim population  generally  had  large  households but did a better  job of eradicating malaria, with the  researchers speculat- ing it may be because of their segregated sleeping arrangements.

Males  and  females  generally  sleep  sleep  in separate areas. As household size continues  to  decline,  McKitrick  said malaria should  gradually disappear. But he added that countries need not wait for that to happen.

The report stated that in Vanuatu, located in  the  South  Pacific  Ocean  -  with  anaverage 5.6 people per household- providing  bed  nets  and  effective  drug distribution and surveillance since 1996 has  effectively wiped out malaria. “Thekey factor is segmenting sleeping quarters and greater use of  bed nets in those  countries  where  malaria  is  still prevalent,” McKitrick added.

Reading between the lines and convincedthat household practices influence malaria prevention, the National Malaria Control  Programme  (NMCP)  in  Ghana, undertook  a national hang-up programme to increase universal access to treated bed net and to  address past failures of bed net  distribution exercise, which revealed that beneficiaries did not sleep in  the  nets because they did not know how to hang them.

Through  the  support  of  the  USAID, UNICEF  and  WHO,  among  others,  the NMCP's hang- up  exercise saw officials actually  entering the sleeping places of families  to  hang  mosquito  nets  within minutes, using basic tools at  no cost to beneficiaries to break malaria transmis- sion at the household level.

It  has been some two years since  this exercise was carried out. The  impact of the exercise on bringing  down malaria transmission  statistics  in  the  country may not  yet be known. However, some researchers are convinced that addressing household matters are  important in any preventive strategy.

“The key factor is segmenting sleeping quarters and greater use of bed nets in those countries where malaria is still prevalent,”

Hang up has been carried out in 16 other endemic  countries  (Angola,  Botswana, Burundi, Democratic  Republic of Congo, Guinea, Kenya,  Liberia, Malawi, Mozam- bique,  Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia),  accord- ing  to  NETSFORLIFE,  an  anti-malaria NGO  which  reports  that  it  has  so  far distributed  11,225,725  bed  nets  and monitoring its use and impact on communities.

Studies  have shown that poorer  urban households are less likely than wealthier urban households to  make appropriate use of ITNs,  malaria tests and appropri- ate anti-malarials.

The appeals for more studies to gauge the impact  of  household  practices  on  the burden  of  malaria  will  yield  little  if funding problems are not solved.  

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says to date it has contributed  nearly US$2.6 billion to combat  malaria. The foundation  also  has  committed  more  than US$1.6 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria amounting to 50% of  international  funding  for  malaria control  worldwide.  A  change  in  the priorities of the foundation could have a drastic  effect on malaria research and development. It is therefore  important that more agencies and government step up in contributing to the malaria fight.

BY EUNICE MENKA – GHANA
 

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