Malaria

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease, which is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The illness is caused by parasites of the Plasmodium species; these parasites affect the human body once they have entered the blood stream.

Statistics

Malaria currently accounts for over a millions deaths each year; over 90% of these occur in Africa.

Why is Malaria so prevalent in Africa?

Malaria is common in places where there is a warm climate combined with frequent rainfall; areas prone to flooding are also attractive to mosquitoes. Most travellers who visit areas which are commonly infected by malaria take special medication and preventive measures such as mosquito nets, in order to prevent them from suffering with the disease. However, many native Africans do not have access to these resources and are therefore prone to mosquito bites. Young children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk from contracting malaria.

Can malaria be treated effectively?

Most cases of malaria are curable; a combination of drugs is offered as a treatment, which is particularly effective in cases which have been diagnosed early. In developed countries almost all who suffer from malaria are cured; in contrast, in the developing world, where there is little access to healthcare facilities and suitable medication, most sadly do not survive.

Preventing malaria

Resources, such as those mentioned above, may radically reduce the number of deaths caused by malaria in the developing world. Anti-malarial drugs, mosquito nets and suitable treatments for those infected with malaria are all in short supply in the developing world and consequently the death rate is high. Educational initiatives informing people of the dangers of malaria would also help people to take precautionary measures.

Help to combat malaria

Perhaps the most high-profile campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of malaria was the 2008 Kilimanjaro summit climb carried out by a team of celebrities for Comic Relief; this event raised millions of pounds which helped to provide much needed resources such as medication and mosquito nets and to raise the profile of malaria in the developed world. The G8 countries also pledged to increase their efforts to fight the spread of malaria in the developing world.