The name of the disease (Malaria) may be simple but its implications are not, especially its economic burden. Children under the age of 5 are more vulnerable. The malaria causing parasite called plasmodium was first discovered by Alphonse Laveran in 1880 in Constantine, a military hospital in Algeria. Sir Ronald Ross, an Indian Army General and Matilda, his wife, made the discovery that malaria parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes. The disease has spread widely to become a lethal infectious disease to humans. The disease has infested all continents of the world apart from Antarctica.
Primarily, Malaria is rampant in Africa’s tropical as well as some sub-tropical regions, Asia, Oceania, and South as well as Central America. By an infective female Anopheles mosquito bite, this disease can be transmitted. However, it can transplacentally be transmitted due to blood transfusion. The incubation period from bite to the beginning of symptoms depends on various aspects like immune status, parasite species, anti-malarial drugs’ use, and infecting dose. Repeated exposure as well as infection may develop partial malaria immunity. Only the female anopheles mosquito transmit malaria. This is because plasmodium parasites affect female mosquitoes and not male mosquitoes. During pregnancy, malaria can cause both severe illness as well as maternal death. The disease has no specific symptoms, making it clinically difficult to differentiate other febrile diseases from it. Not every anopheles mosquito is a malaria vector.
Many governments and individuals have been forced to incur high costs to contain this disease. It has an estimated economic impact of $12 billion annually in Africa. This involves the costs associated with absenteeism, lowered productivity, health care and loss of investment as well as tourism. In Africa, for instance, the disease is seen as one of the causative factors of poverty. It is estimated to have slowed down the continent’s economic growth by 1.3%.
During pregnancy, malaria can lead to foetal loss and sometimes, maternal death. Poor people and those living in rural areas are also at risk since they may lack the required means of not only treating but also preventing malaria. Malaria has led to a large number of deaths worldwide every other year. Most of the deaths are recorded in the sub-Saharan Africa. There are more than one parasites that can cause human malaria. If the disease is brought under control, a continent like Africa is likely to experience an increase in its economic growth rate. Considering its economic burden especially on the African continent, bold steps should be made in controlling and eliminating the disease. Some of these measures include; wearing of protective clothing that is full sleeve, use of insect repellents on the exposed skin, use of mosquito nets, among others. Pro-active measure can also be taken like looking out for fever with high levels of temperatures, taking of anti-malarial tablets, among others.
O’Meara, Wendy Prudhomme, et al. “Changes in the burden of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.” The Lancet infectious diseases 10.8 (2010): 545-555.
Cohen, Justin M., et al. “Malaria resurgence: a systematic review and assessment of its causes.” Malaria journal 11.1 (2012): 1-17.
Kimbi, Helen K., et al. “Knowledge and perceptions towards malaria prevention among vulnerable groups in the Buea Health District, Cameroon.” BMC Public Health 14.1 (2014): 1-9.