Malaria is a potentially life threatening disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Plasmodium.
- Clinical attacks of malaria normally begin with influenza-like symptoms, fever often accompanied by a headache, muscle stiffness and shaking, some-times also vomiting and diarrhoea. Recurrent bouts of fever and sweating may then develop.
- Human malaria is the most devastating and widespread parasitic disease.
- Malaria exists in more than 100 countries, and affects more than 40% of the world population, mainly the most resource constraint populations in tropical Africa.
- More than 90% of all malaria cases occur in tropical Africa, and the vast majority of deaths caused by malaria occur in African children under five years of age. It is estimated that in areas of Africa with high malaria transmission, a child will die every 30 seconds. In certain areas of Africa almost 3,000 children die from malaria every day.
- Malaria is transmitted from human to human by infective bites of the female Anopheles mosquito. Preventing mosquito bites, may therefore prevent Malaria.
- Malaria infection can be drug cured. However, mosquitoes are becoming increasingly resistant to chemical insecticides and there is an ever increasing and widening spread of malaria parasites resistant to available antimalaria drugs.
- The most resource constraint part of the world experiences more malaria today than 30 years ago.
- This public health crisis affects the most vulnerable segments of society, children and pregnant women.
- As with other transmittable diseases, vaccination may offer a sustainable solution to the control of malaria. Vaccines are at the centre of public health, and are a health-promoting intervention, especially benefiting the poor.
The following links provide additional information:
WHO - Roll Back Malaria
CDC - Malaria Facts
CDC - Malaria Disease