As my New Year's resolution I vowed to raise awareness for things that happened all around the world. I decided, what better way to start the new year off, other than raising awareness about one of Africa's most dangerous diseases: malaria. Malaria is a life-threatening disease that is transferred to humans from mosquitoes that are infected by parasites. Of all the types of parasites, the only type that causes malaria is the protozoan parasite. Because these parasites reproduce in enormous amounts, they tend to be more harmful and cause very serious diseases.
Often people infected with malaria do not realize that they even have it, which is one of the saddest things. The parasite enters into the bloodstream from the mosquito and multiplies, the longer it is there, the worse it will get. According to WHO, because of the strong biting habit the African species has, is the main reason 90% of all malaria cases are based in Africa. Although malaria is not present in every country in Africa, malaria is a disease that affects the majority of the Sub-Saharan region. Transmission of the disease depends on the climate, which then has an effect on the survival of the mosquitoes. According to the CDC, transmission is more intense in places where the lifespans of mosquitoes are longer. Due to mosquitoes’ lifespans changing as the climate changes, the transmission of malaria is higher in certain regions than others.
Children, pregnant women, and travelers have a higher risk of getting malaria due to weakened immune systems and the lack of immunity, although everyone is still at some sort of risk. Over years of exposure to certain conditions helps many adults build up partial immunity. Partial immunity will keep these adults from contracting serious and severe diseases caused by malaria but, they are never completely immune and protected from malaria itself. Because you are not aware that you are infected and because from the beginning you experience flu-like symptoms, African's never think anything serious is wrong. Leaving malaria untreated could cause many more problems. Children with severe malaria suffer from: severe anaemia, respiratory distress and even cerebral malaria, which could cause brain damage and lifelong problems.
Currently, children with cerebral malaria in Africa are being treated with Intravenous Artesunate, with hopes to reduce the 20% of lives that will be taken by the chronic disease. Although antimalarial drugs could prevent malaria, the main way of preventing malaria is through vector control methods. Because funds are low, WHO recommends two main vector control methods: mosquito sprays and mosquito nets. These residual insecticide sprays are to be used inside of the home and will prevent mosquitoes from entering for up to 6 months before it will need to be applied again. Insecticide treated nets are to be used whenever someone is sleeping outside, but they can also be used inside of the home. The main point of the net is to send off a smell for the mosquitoes warning them not to come near, if they do land on the net, they die. These nets typically last for up to three years, which is three years of protection. WHO believes that if the lifespan of the nets is lengthened, billions of money will be saved.
Today, although over 700 million cases of malaria have been prevented, it is still a crisis that should be paid more attention to. With the help of sprays and nets, the numbers will continue to decrease with hopes of being completely eliminated. As American's, we should vow to do everything we can to help other countries get the treatment they need. We should stop paying attention to things that don't matter and start paying attention to what actually does.