Malaria is a life threatening disease killing an insurmountable large number of people, particularly children and the elderly in the African Region annually. The disease is caused by a parasite present in the Anopheles female mosquito and has become the leading cause of death on our planet. According to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2015 there was an estimate of 212 million new cases of malaria which occurred worldwide where 429,000 people, mostly children, died.
These are worrying figures, more so, because malaria can be prevented and has a cure whenever one is exposed to the disease. The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ clearly illustrates why it is easier to stop something from taking place in the first place than to fix the damage after it has happened. Therefore, it is very important to advocate for malaria awareness to be able to control the disease.
It is dubious to say everyone is aware of malaria due to its global fame of being a grim reaper. This is because, even simple messages of how malaria spreads and its treatment has not yet reached some communities. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease. These myths do not necessarily touch on the disease itself but also the prevention and treatment measures. For instance, the use of nets is not encouraged by some communities in Africa who believe the mosquito nets may hinder breathing for the occupants who use it and to some extent even have witchcraft. Some fishermen have even resorted to using the mosquito nets for fishing instead of the slated purpose. Other misconceptions such as the drugs used to cure malaria having unnecessarily bad effects such as leading to impotency in the patient hence the dosage may not be taken appropriately or not taken at all.
Other than these myths and misconceptions, some pregnant women and people living with HIV/Aids do not see the need to seek preventive measures such as using mosquito nets or by taking the recommended dosage when one gets malaria. For this group of people, they are at a much higher risk of being infected with malaria.
Relatively, symptoms of malaria go unrecognized or untreated. According to the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria, 70% of the malaria cases that are treated at home are mismanaged. Up to 82% of all malaria episodes in sub-Saharan Africa are treated outside the formal health sector.
When a person gets malaria, it becomes damaging to the society and economy because one is unable to work, which may lead to the loss of a job or business revenue that is vital to their family’s survival and the economy of a country at large.
Therefore, there is a need to endorse knowledge on the symptoms, causes and preventive measures of the world wide killer disease– Malaria. Today being World Malaria day with the theme of this year being “End Malaria for Good” there are interventions already in place to control the disease. Mortein Doom has been at the forefront of fighting Malaria, partnering with the Ministry of Health over the last 4 years, in support of the push to roll out Malaria for good. This partnership has rolled out national educational interventions in a bid to impart the public with knowledge on Malaria prevention measures.
Interventions such as education and awareness, and basic primary health services right from the community level are being addressed. Here, communities are being educated on the need to use mosquito nets, proper environmental management such as draining stagnant water, clearing of long grass, use of indoor sprays and completing the prescribed dosage.
Information and communication mediums, especially through mass media integration such as the education and awareness held in Narok by Mortein Doom today can considerably scale up the efficiency of controlling malaria.
When we expanded information and communication networks especially through community based participatory development, it encourages the use of local information, knowledge and decision making. In the end this will ensure timely and immediate care due to a recognition of the malaria symptoms thereby resulting to a collective knowledge based treatment. This will assist in reducing child mortality and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 which strives to achieve healthy lives and promote the well-being for all at all ages.