Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Malaria Killed More People Than Terrorism in 2015, Are You Still Not Protected?

We are afraid of HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Heart Attack. We are afraid of terrorism and accidental deaths. But, do you know that over 3.2 billion people (almost half of the world’s population) are living with a risk of malaria that killed over 438,000 individuals all over the world in 2015. In India, 2.57 per 100,000 individuals die due to this fatal disease. All these deaths are for some tiny mosquitoes thriving in our locality because of our careless approach.

Malaria is caused by the transmission of Plasmodium parasites through infected Anopheles mosquito bites (acts as vectors). There are 5 species of this parasite, causing malaria in humans, of which the most deadly is the Plasmodium falciparum.

Almost half the current population of the world (3.2 billion people) is at risk of acquiring malaria. Over 214 million cases of malaria were estimated in 2015 resulting over 438,000 deaths.

The most vulnerable population being the pregnant women, children and travelers who are not immune to malaria. Children below 5-years-old are most susceptible to this disease (70% of the deaths occur within this age group in 2015).

The good news is that the mortality rates of malaria have decreased by 60% (in all age groups) or 65% (among children below 5 years) from 2000 to 2015. However, like many other fatal diseases (AIDS or Cancer) early diagnosis is important to prevent deaths by malaria.

Currently, the most concerning news is the emerging trend of the parasite to develop resistance against artemisinin (the major compound of the modern combination treatment plan to combat uncomplicated malaria). This is a major concern in south East Asian countries such as Viet Nam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. The partner drug is, however, still effective.

The best way to avoid malaria is to have a mosquito free locality. For prevention, sleeping inside mosquito nets (better if it is treated with insecticides that remains active for 2-3 years) is still the best solution.

The most effective means of reducing malaria transmission rapidly is through indoor residual spraying when about 80% of the houses in a locality is covered and remains effective for 3 to 6 months (depends on the type of insecticides and the surface of the households). Scientists are working to develop long lasting insecticides.

Malaria cannot be treated as a fatal disease only. It is also responsible for major economic losses in countries which are already in severe economic crisis. It has the power to trap communities as well as families in poverty, especially in populations of lower socio economic status having limited health care affodability or access. Watch the following video to prevent malaria (Courtesy MEDREWIND). Let us win the war against mosquitoes and #malaria. Live a healthy life and #StayMalariaProtected. (Information source: WHO)

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