Medically reviewed by Dr. Riaz Ali Shah.
What is Malaria?
Being a potentially fatal disease, malaria is caused by parasites transferred to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitos. Malaria symptoms include severe illness, including a high fever and trembling chills. Malaria affected around 241 million people globally in 2020 with over 627000 deaths. However, it is important to note that it is both avoidable and curable. Every year on April 25th, World Malaria Day is commemorated to draw global attention to the efforts being made to eradicate malaria and to promote action to decrease suffering and death from the illness.
World health initiatives give preventive medications and insecticide-treated bed nets to shield individuals from mosquito bites in order to reduce malaria infections along with numerous vaccine drives.
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Prevalence of Malaria in Pakistan
Malaria is the world’s fifth-largest major cause of death. The status of malaria in Pakistan is not very promising. Although Pakistan is classified as a moderately malaria-endemic country, 177 million people are at risk of contracting malaria and approximately 60% of Pakistan’s population lives in malaria-endemic areas. While malaria is rare in temperate climes, it remains prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas. Global warming-induced increases in temperature raise the mosquito population, which is responsible for vector-borne diseases such as malaria. In Pakistan, cases are reported at a higher rate during the summer, the rainy season which is the malaria season in Pakistan, than during the other three seasons of the year. However, provinces like Sindh which are warm for the most part of the year have malaria spread all around the year because of the presence of mosquitoes in the environment. There is a strong correlation between this variable and certain climate factors such as temperature, moisture content, and humidity. Identifying malaria’s ‘concentrated time’ can aid policymakers in deploying malaria control initiatives.
How to protect yourself against malaria?
If you live in or are traveling to an area where malaria is common, take steps to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn. To protect yourself from mosquito bites, you should:
- Cover your skin. Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Apply insect repellent to the skin.
- Sleep under a net if there are mosquitos in the room or spray anti-mosquito spray in your room an hour before you go to bed.
- Get vaccinated.
The World Health Organization has recommended a malaria vaccine for use in children who live in countries with high numbers of malaria cases. Researchers are continuing to develop and study malaria vaccines to prevent infection.
Symptoms of Malaria
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches
- Mild jaundice, which can cause the eyes to appear yellow
- A higher breathing rates
- A general feeling of being unwell
Treatment of Malaria in Pakistan
Malaria test name in Pakistan is malarial parasite microscopy and malaria antigen test. Once a malaria test comes positive, treatment should begin immediately. To treat malaria, physicians prescribe anti-malarial medications. Certain parasites are resistant to antimalarial medications. The type of medication and duration of treatment is determined by the parasite responsible for the symptoms. Some anti-malaria medicine in Pakistan and around the world include:
- Artemisinin drugs
Malaria has afflicted mankind for millennia and resulted in an unfathomable number of deaths. Malaria has also played a significant impact on human geopolitics and evolution. Malaria is a changing, dynamic, and diversified disease, yet it is currently concentrated in some of the world’s poorest populations. Lessons learned over the last two decades demonstrate that success against malaria is attainable when the globe works cooperatively. However, tremendous biological, political, governance, socioeconomic, and data-related obstacles continue to exist.
New technologies, such as vaccinations, have the potential to be game-changers and will require a collaborative effort built on scientific learning and collaboration. However, immunizations alone will not solve the malaria problem. Without a cadre of well-trained and empowered health workers, no progress will be done. Improved data utilization to plan, implement, and track success, even within a single country, will allow for more effective resource allocation.
Finally, public health governance must be based on national decision-making processes. Only then will we be able to resume progress toward global eradication.
By: Sanya Zahid