Thursday, 8 September 2016

Sri Lanka malaria free and Delhi sees two deaths because of Malaria in just over two months: The need for mass awareness about prevention

Sri Lanka malaria free and Delhi sees two deaths because of Malaria in just over two months: The need for mass awareness about prevention

Malaria is a preventable disease, and it is imperative that awareness is raised about reducing the rising disease incidence around the Globe. Estimates indicate that over 3.2 billion people live at risk of contracting malaria. In 2015, there were an estimated 214 million malaria cases and some 438 000 malaria-related deaths. For a preventable disease, these numbers are alarming.

In India too malaria is a major public health concern. Over 561 people died due to the disease in 2014, 440 in 2013 and 519 in 2012.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquito vectors. Of the five parasite species that cause malaria in humans, Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly.

About 95% of India's population resides in malaria endemic areas, and 80% of the malaria cases reported in the country are confined to areas consisting of 20% of the population residing in tribal, hilly, difficult and inaccessible areas.

Young children, pregnant women are most vulnerable. Those under 5 are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death. Globally more than two-thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in this age group.

"Comprehensive malaria prevention and control measures can play a key role in dramatically reducing the malaria burden in the country. Sri Lanka, for instance, has successfully won the battle against malaria. Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission. ICMR and IMA should be allowed to do a post-mortem analysis of all 561 cases to learn lessons and come up with comprehensive strategies to fight malaria in the country",said Padma Shri Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal - President Elect & Honorary Secretary General IMA & President Heart Care Foundation of India.

Access to diagnostic testing and treatment should be seen not only as a component of malaria control but as a fundamental right of all populations at risk. Artemisinin-based combination therapies remain effective in almost all settings, as long as the partner drug in the combination is locally effective.

Long-lasting insecticidal nets provide personal protection against mosquito bites. They can be used as protection for people most at risk of malaria, such as young children and pregnant women. The nets are effective for 2-3 years, depending on the model and conditions of use.

The full potential of indoor residual spraying is obtained when at least 80% of houses in targeted areas are sprayed. Indoor spraying with insecticides kills the mosquito vector and is effective for 3–6 months, depending on the insecticide used and the type of surface on which it is sprayed.

For pregnant women WHO recommends intermittent preventive treatment at each scheduled antenatal visit after the first trimester.

The mosquito bites between dusk and dawn. It is thus important that protection for all people at risk of malaria with effective malaria vector control is considered. Two forms of vector control – insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying – are effective in a wide range of circumstances

As per the WHO recommendation, all cases of suspected malaria should be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing (either microscopy or rapid diagnostic test) before administering treatment. Results of parasitological confirmation can be available in 30 minutes or less.

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