MALARIA is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
Malaria is caused by the parasite “plasmodium”, which is carried by a vector mosquito called “anopheles” that typically bite between dusk and dawn.
Although malaria can occur among animals, particularly of monkeys, there are four parasite species that specifically infect humans: plasmodium falciparum, vivax, malariae, ovale.
Generally, these anopheles mosquitoes breed in water, each species has its own breeding preference. Some may breed along shallow waters, while others in puddles or rice fields.
It is also important to note that transmission depends on climatic conditions such as rainfall patterns, temperature and humidity as these factors affect the mosquitoes survival.
Malaria is classified as an acute febrile disease. Symptoms begin to appear at least 7 days after the mosquito bite. Fever, headache, chills and vomiting develop initially. After the said period, experts claim that detecting or diagnosing malaria become difficult. If not treated within 24 hours, certain strain of malaria may progress to life-threatening illness leading to severe anemia, respiratory distress and multi-organ failure.
Early diagnosis is the key to prompt medical management. Blood testing can be done to confirm the presence of the parasites and physicians then prescribe chloroquine, the pharmacologic treatment of choice for malaria.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), it is possible to develop partial immunity especially among adults from areas who have been moderately exposed to malaria. This is the reason why most of those severely affected by malaria are children.
As a matter of fact, most medical sociologist and public health workers maintain that the prevalence of malaria among children aged 5 years and below is a sensitive poverty index.
In 1997, the Philippine Department of Health recommended the following actions in response to malaria elimination in the country: (1) early diagnosis through rapid diagnostic testing; (2) controlling spread of mosquitoes through giving out of treated nets to community; and (3) implementation of community based malaria control through social mobilization and public health education.
Statistics shared by the World Health Organization claims that about 198 million cases of malaria were recorded worldwide with a mortality of 584,000.
In 2014, 97 countries, including the Philippines had ongoing-malarial transmissions. Worldwide, cost for malarial treatments and diagnosis range to 12 Billion US dollars. April 25 is charted as the world malaria. For this year, the worldwide theme is “invest in the future, defeat malaria.”