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Promoting awareness on malaria control

Last time I checked, Malaria remained a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by a group of single-celled parasitic micro-organisms known as protozoa. The disease is mainly transmitted through mosquito bites, and the symptoms often commence few days.
Malaria is transmitted most commonly by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The mosquito introduces the parasite called plasmodium into a person’s bloodstream.
The signs and symptoms of malaria typically begin eight to 25 days following infection; however, symptoms may occur later in those who have taken anti-malarial medications as prevention. Initial manifestations of the disease, are similar to flu-like symptoms and can resemble other conditions such as septicemia, gastroenteritis and viral diseases.
The presentation may include headache, fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting, haemolytic anaemia, jaundice, haemoglobin in the urine, retinal damage, and convulsions.
Severe malaria, which might lead to death, is usually caused by P. Falciparum – often referred to as ‘Falciparum Malaria’. Its symptoms arise nine to 30 days after contracting the infection. Individuals with cerebral malaria frequently exhibit neurological symptoms including abnormal posturing, nystagmus, conjugate gaze palsy i.e. failure of the eyes to turn together in the same direction, opisthotonus, seizure, or coma.
It is worthy to note that, concurrent infection of diseases like HIV with malaria increases mortality rate. Malaria in pregnant women is the major cause of stillbirths, infant mortality, abortion and low birth weight, particularly in P. Falciparum infection.
Symptoms of malaria can recur after varying symptom-free periods.  Depending upon the cause, recurrence can be classified as either recrudescence or relapse. Recrudescence is when symptoms return after a symptom-free period; it is caused by parasites living in the blood as a result of inadequate or ineffective treatment. Whilst, relapse is when symptoms reappear after the parasites have been eliminated from blood but persist as dormant hyponozoites in liver cells; relapse commonly occurs between eight to twenty-four weeks and is common among P. Vivax and P. Ovale infections.
The primary sources of mosquitoes include sewage, refuse, dirty stagnant water, and untidy environment.
Methods used to prevent malaria include medications, mosquito elimination through fumigation coupled with regular environmental sanitation, as well as prevention of mosquito bites via regular cum proper use of the mosquito nets, among others. Prevention of malaria, which is yet to have a vaccine, may be more cost-effective than treatment of the disease in the long run; though the initial measures required are out of reach of many of the world’s poorest people.
It is obvious that malaria is a killer disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2010 alone, there were about 219 million cases of malaria outbreak resulting 660,000 deaths. The majority of cases, about 65%, occur in children under fifteen years. Survey also indicates that about 125 million pregnant women are at risk of infection each year; in Sub-Saharan Africa such as Nigeria, Angola, Chad, Congo, Benin, Ghana and several others, maternal malaria is associated with up to 200,000 estimated infant deaths yearly. In a nutshell; globally, about 3.3 billion individuals in 106 countries are at risk of malaria, mostly among African children.
Due to the widespread of malaria infection and its deadly consequence, the WHO thought it wise to proclaim World Malaria Day. In view of this, in May 2007 during the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, April 25 of every year was unanimously adopted as the World Malaria Day. Needless to say; today the world over is commemorating the World Malaria Day. The day was established to provide education and thorough understanding of malaria disease across the globe, especially in countries where the disease seems to be endemic.
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the annual World Malaria Day, I urge every individual in the country regardless of age or status, to be extremely conscious of the outlook of his/her surroundings or immediate environment since malaria is mainly attributed to unhealthy vicinity. Thus, we should always endeavour to properly dispose any form of waste found within our place of residence as well as thoroughly sanitize our gutters and toilets at all times. In addition, we ought to ensure that our beds are always covered with treated mosquito net whenever we lie in it.
Among all, we should endeavour to see our physician from time-to-time or whenever we notice any abnormality in our body system, for onward review of our health status. In the same vein, the various health workers/personnel across the country are expected to contribute meaningfully and immensely in creation of awareness regarding the causes and possible effects of malaria disease as well as its epidemic. Above all, we ought to always bear in mind that prevention is invariably better than cure. Think about it!

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