Malaria is a major problem globally, but especially affects tropical areas. It is an insect-bourne disease that is spread by mosquitos and has developed into multiple different strains. Some of these strains have even become drug-resistant, which poses new problems for healthcare providers and people living in Malaria sites around the world.
Women, pregnant woman, children, and travelers who have little immunity to the disease are the parties who are most at risk for contracting this potentially fatal condition. In 2015, there were roughly 214 million Malaria cases and over 438,000 Malaria deaths (“Ten Facts on Malaria”). Although this disease is present in Latin America, Asia, and other parts of Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa was home to 89% of Malaria cases in 2015 and 91% of Malaria deaths (“Ten Facts on Malaria”). It is clear that this is a relevant health problem that not only affects individuals, but also takes a significant toll on the society and economy as a whole.
Photo from the Center for Disease Control
Individuals and families are affected financially by Malaria due to the cost of medication to treat the disease, the cost of traveling to and from treatment, and the loss of income that comes from missing work. In addition, individuals are affected when the disease causes them to miss school, take leaves of absences from their jobs, or experience the death of someone close to them who has passed away from Malaria. In terms of the government, the national economy is affected by the cost of insecticides, distribution of nets, and the cost of maintaining healthcare facilities that are equipped to treat this condition. In times of high risk of contracting Malaria, many countries suffer from a lack of income from tourism. In addition, many times areas of the world suffer when large masses of their working population become too sick to fulfill their responsibilities (“Impact of Malaria”).
There is currently no Malaria vaccine available, but there are different types of medication that can be used to treat the disease once a person contracts it. Like I mentioned before, there are some strains of Malaria that have become drug-resistant. When many people already have limited resources in terms of treating Malaria, it can make things even more difficult when the strain of the disease that they have takes more rigorous treatment. Many governments and health organizations work to prevent the spread of Malaria through distributing insecticide-treated nets for people to hang around their beds and living spaces, providing preventative treatment for pregnant women, and providing preventative treatment for infants. As with most global health issues, education is a key to stopping the spread of this communicable disease. As health care providers, it is our duty to educate those who are at risk about how they can contract the disease, what the symptoms are, how to seek treatment, and ways that they can lower their risk of contracting it. It is also important that we adequately prepare our bodies before embarking on trips to areas of the world that are at risk, so that we can protect our own health and provide effective care to those who need it where we are traveling to.
“Impact of Malaria.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
“Ten Facts on Malaria.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, Nov. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
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