World Malaria Day: how we are fighting against a deadly microscopic parasite
The high-pitched buzz of a mosquito nothing more than a mild inconvenience to many of us, but for communities living in malaria zones, it is a reminder of the constant threat of a life-threatening disease. Despite being both curable and preventable, the single cell parasite Plasmodium continues to claim the lives of more than half a million people every year by spreading through mosquito bites. But researchers and communities are fighting back to eliminate the disease using some clever tactics to stay one step ahead of our microscopic enemy. The World Health Organization (WHO) have gone into the battle with a big target – to cut malaria cases and deaths by 90% by 2020.
Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention
This is one of the newest methods of malaria prevention and has shown to be a very effective way of preventing the disease occurring in young children. The method administers four monthly doses of curative antimalarial drugs during the months where transmission of the parasite is most common (during the rainy season). The Malaria Consortium and UNITAID have carried out the largest seasonal malaria chemoprevention mission, providing more than 45 million treatments to over six million children by 2017, preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Insecticide Treated Bednets
If we can’t fight the parasite, we can fight the mosquitos. Insecticide-treated bednets hangover sleeping areas to protect people by preventing them from biting their skin and transmitting malaria. There is no preventative vaccination, but because the insects seek their blood meal at nighttime, nets are the best way to prevent the parasite getting into our blood.
Malarial symptoms are quite vague, usually just presenting with a painful fever and sickness. The development of rapid diagnostic tests means that patients that have the parasite are able to get better treatment earlier so they are more likely to make a full recovery
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