August 10, 2013  |  By Mary Obo, Ghana


Photo : Wiki Commons

Malaria is a disease in tropical Africa. It is mainly caused by a parasite which is normally carried and injected into our bodies by a mosquito. The malaria parasite uses the body of the anopheles mosquito as a place to develop and wait until it is transmitted through a bite into the human blood stream. When a parasite enters a person, it completes part of its development cycle. The cycle continues if the person develops malaria and another anopheles mosquito bites the sick person and sucks their blood.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that nearly 1 million people died of the disease in 2010. These were mainly children from Sub-Saharan African countries. Malaria is preventable in almost all cases.

Malaria attacks are normally accompanied by fever, chills, profuse respiration and occasionally vomiting. This means that, if malaria attacks, the victim develops a high body temperature and also the person will sweat a lot and could be unable to keep down food and water. Some people could experience a loss of appetite and their eyes turn reddish and/or yellow.

If malaria is left untreated, it can be fatal and result in death. Untreated malaria can also lead to chronic malaria which then becomes almost impossible to treat.

The drugs used for the treatment of malaria include chloroquine, fancidar, camoquine and nivaquine. It is always best for a doctor to prescribe the type of drug that can best fight the particular type of malaria the patient has and to determine the best dosage.

Malaria can be prevented in several ways. One of these is to take anti-malaria drugs at regular intervals. They are taken not to cure, but to prevent the disease from taking hold in the body.

Another method of preventing malaria is to make sure that pools, ponds, wells, drainage systems and empty cans do not provide hatcheries for the mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Standing water in these places provide a good environment for the eggs to hatch in. It is also advisable to keep mosquitoes out of rooms by using insect sprays, and by covering all windows with insect proof nets (mosquito nets). There are also several mosquito repellents that can be rubbed or sprayed on the body to keep mosquitoes away. 

Malaria drugs can be very expensive and many people do not have the money to buy them. This is why so many people die unnecessarily from malaria. A lot of people who are uneducated do not know about mosquito nets or sprays. More needs to be done to help people who do not have the money to buy the drugs.

It is very important to educate people on malaria prevention so we can stop the disease from taking so many lives.

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