World Malaria Day which usually falls on April 25 is with us again. A day set aside annually for the world to sit back, evaluate past Malaria prevention and treatment measures, celebrate wins, and map fresh strategies for the future. There has been a lot of progress in the fight against Malaria especially since the year 2000, but we are not there yet because half the world is still at risk from this ailment which is both preventable and treatable. A disease that is coursing the deaths of 450,000 children annually. Left untreated, Malaria has even been known to cause permanent brain damage in children.
Having a sick child is one of the most disheartening things for a mother. Seeing your otherwise happy and bubbly baby curled up without even the energy to cry is not something any mother would want to go through. Given a chance, we want our children, and indeed everyone else, to remain healthy throughout.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Illness comes knocking on our doors every so often and our young children are likely to catch the bugs sooner. Mothers will do anything to in the world to keep their children healthy and when we look at a case of Malaria for example, it is obvious that that is the best way to go is prevention.
There are several ways to prevent those pesky mosquitoes that spread malaria. One, make sure that bushes around the compound are trimmed, and small swamps within the home especially now in the rainy season are drained. Two, use commercially available indoor sprays and infusions. My favourite is the Mortein electric diffuser but I always also keep a can of spray for that one stubborn mosquito, or for other insects in the home.
Then of course there is the use of mosquito nets. This is a very effective method actually though in the past and in a few parts of the country, distribution of free nets was met with resistance.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding Malaria. 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 that the mosquito nets are an item of witchcraft. I remember a case in a Malaria prone area where residents rejected nets, saying that they were talking to them at night.
Some fishermen have even resorted to using the mosquito nets for fishing instead of as a guard against mosquitoes. Another misconception in other areas is that the drugs used to cure malaria having bad effects like to impotence in the patient. This makes people not adhere to correct doses or skip medication all together.
Clearly, a lot of awareness about Malaria is still needed. Awareness will lead to more knowledge about the infection, and hence more ammunition for fighting it. The people to spread awareness are none other than Government, pharmaceutical companies, and insecticide manufacturers among others. Mortein Doom for instance has been at the forefront of fighting Malaria, partnering with different players including Ministry of Health for initiatives to successfully fight Malaria. This is the way to go. The more people know about Malaria, the more they will join the fight against it from a point of knowledge, and the faster we can kick this menace out.