April 25 World Malaria Day
Mosquitoes are the world’s deadliest and most prolific killers .These tiny creatures kill over 6 lakh people every years ,through diseases like malaria and dengue . This world malaria day lets pledge to kill every single mosquito.
What is malaria?
Malaria is an infectious disease that is caused by mosquito-borne plasmodium parasite which infects the red blood cells. It’s one of the deadliest diseases in India. There’s no vaccine for malaria yet and immunity occurs naturally through repeated infection. Common symptoms are fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, body ache, headache, cough and diarrhoea. If untreated, it can lead to complications like jaundice, dehydration, anaemia, brain malaria, liver failure and kidney failure. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly – anyone with decreased immunity is at a greater risk.
How does one get malaria?
The life cycle of malaria is complicated and it involves two hosts- the human being and the mosquito. Once bitten by a female anopheles mosquito, the malarial parasite enters the blood stream. It travels all through his blood stream to reach the liver. In the liver the parasite matures and multiplies. Some of the parasites stay there whereas the other parasites move out from the liver attacking red blood cells. The parasite then multiplies in the red blood cells. In the next 48-72 hours, more parasites are released into the blood. This is the reason why the chills of malaria are generally seen after 48 to 72 hours corresponding to the release of the malarial parasite in the blood.
With three out of four people being at risk of malaria in South-East Asia region, World Health Organization today called for greater investment in the battle against malaria on the occasion of World Malaria Day. Even though the number of confirmed malaria cases in the Region, which is home to a quarter of the world’s population decreased from 2.9 million in 2000 to 2 million in 2012, the disease remains a significant threat to the lives of people.
’1.4 billion people continue to be at risk of malaria in South-East Asia. They are often the poorest, including workers in hilly or forested areas, in development projects such as mining, agroforestry, road and dam constructions, and upland subsistence farming in rural and urban areas,’ said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia. Stressing that the funding needs to be increased for diagnostics, drugs, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and research and response to drug and insecticide resistance, Singh said, ‘We need to empower communities to protect themselves. Eliminating malaria will take greater political will.
India is expected to decrease malaria case incidence by 50?75 per cent by 2015. Sri Lanka is in the elimination phase with no indigenous case reported since November 2012. Maldives has been malaria-free since 1984. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nepal, and Sri Lanka reduced the incidence of malaria cases by more than 75 per cent from 2000 to 2012. Thailand and Timor-Leste are on track to achieve a decrease of over 75 per cent. But the gains in malaria control, although substantial, could be reversed due to increasing parasite resistance to drugs, mosquito resistance to insecticides and re-introduction of transmission in places where the disease has been eliminated. The emergence of artemisinin resistance in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam threatens the global achievements in malaria control and elimination. Artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) is currently the first line treatment for the most lethal type of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum. Resistance to this drug would compromise the lives of hundreds of thousands of people affected with malaria, and there is an urgent need to invest in ways to contain the spread of resistance to these drugs, said,Singh.Another danger lies in the fact that the Anopheles mosquitoes, which carry malaria parasites, are increasingly become resistant to insecticides. ‘Investments are needed to develop new tools, to conduct operational research to address bottlenecks in malaria control programmes, and to scale-up and ensure rational use of existing interventions,’ said Singh.
WASH Related Diseases
Malaria, the world’s most important parasitic infectious disease, is transmitted by mosquitoes which breed in fresh or occasionally brackish water.
The disease and how it affects people
The symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, and jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and eyes). Convulsions, coma, severe anaemia and kidney failure can also occur. The severity and range of symptoms depend on the specific type of malaria. In certain types, the infection can remain inactive for up to five years and then recur. In areas with intense malaria transmission, people can develop protective immunity after repeated infections. Without prompt and effective treatment, malaria can evolve into a severe cerebral form followed by death. Malaria is among the five leading causes of death in under-5-year-old children in Africa.
Malaria is caused by four species of Plasmodium parasites (P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae). People get malaria after being bitten by a malaria-infected Anopheles mosquito. Some female mosquitoes take their blood-meal at dusk and early evening, but others bite during the night or in the early hours of the morning. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it ingests malaria parasites with the blood. During a period of 8 to 35 days (depending on the ambient temperature), the parasite develops in the mosquito. The infective form (sporozoite) ends up in the salivary glands and is injected into the new human host at subsequent blood-meals. In the human host, the sporozoites migrate to the liver, multiply inside liver cells, and spread into the bloodstream. The liver phase can last between 8 days and several months, depending on the malaria species. Their growth and multiplication takes place inside red blood cells. Clinical symptoms occur when the red blood cells break up. If this happens in large numbers, the person experiences the characteristic intermittent fevers of the disease. The released parasites invade other blood cells. Most people begin feeling sick 10 days to 4 weeks after being infected.
Today, malaria occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical countries, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara, South-East Asia, and the forest fringe zones in South America. The ecology of the disease is closely associated with the availability of water, as the larval stage of mosquitoes develops in different kinds of water bodies. The mosquito species vary considerably in their water-ecological requirements, (sun-lit or shaded, with or without aquatic vegetation, stagnant or slowly streaming, fresh or brackish) and this affects the disease ecology. Climate change (global warming) appears to be moving the altitude limits of malaria to higher elevations, for example in the East African highlands and Madagascar.
The construction of irrigation systems and reservoirs in some parts of the world can have a dramatic impact on malaria distribution and on the intensity of its transmission.
Scope of the Problem
WHO estimates 300-500 million cases of malaria, with over one million deaths each year.
The main burden of malaria (more than 90%) is in Africa south of the Sahara with an estimated annual number of deaths over 1 million. Two thirds of the remaining burden hits six countries: Brazil, Colombia, India, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. In many parts the natural habitat sustains intense malaria transmission; in others, water resources development (irrigation, dams, urban water supply) has exacerbated the transmission intensity and caused the distribution of the disease to spread. In yet others, for example the Central Asian republics of the CIS, malaria has returned as a result of a breakdown in water management and maintenance problems of local irrigation systems.
To be declared malaria free India
Has to go through four phases: Malaria control, pre elimination, elimination and prevention of re-introduction. India is currently in the control phase and will enter the pre elimination in 2017 with a target to bring down cases to less one person at risk per 1000 in a year to reach elimination status . Nearly 85% of the country’s population is at risk of malaria. Almost 65% of cases occurs in poor and marginalized population . Unlike in Africa where malaria is one of the leading causes of under five deaths ,most reported cases in India are in the productive age group of 15 -45 years.