University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Malaria is a disease caused by various protozoan species that belong to the genus Plasmodium, with Plasmodium falciparum predominating in Africa, New Guinea, and Haiti and Plasmodium vivax in Central America. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Malaria has been regarded as one of the most important among the parasitic diseases of humans; it is transmitted in about 107 countries globally with a total estimated population of 3 billion people.
It was also documented to have caused 1-3 million deaths each year (Fauci, et al. , 2008). In the United States, Canada, Europe and Russia, malaria has already been eliminated. However, occasional local transmission after importation of malaria has still been documented in several southern and eastern areas of the United States and Europe. This indicates that although these countries are “malaria-free” there still exist continual danger to non-malarious countries to contact the disease (Fauci, et al. , 2008).
Moreover, despite considerable efforts, the cases of malaria have surged in many parts of the tropics for the past decades. In addition to this resurgence, the problem of drug resistance of the parasite and insecticide resistance of the vectors is also increasing (Fauci, et al. , 2008; Hay, et al. , 2002). The hot climate in the tropics is implicated as one the reasons for the prevalence of malaria in these areas; the increased incidence of malaria also coincides with the increased mosquito breeding and transmission during the rainy season.
An epidemic could also ensue following changes in environmental, economic, or social condition. For example, heavy rains following drought or migration of workers or refugees from a non-malarious region to an area with high transmission rate could increase the incidence of malaria in a particular area. More importantly, the capability to shoulder the economic and health burden of malaria determines the success of combating the disease.
The breakdown in malaria control and prevention services can intensify epidemic conditions and would usually result to considerable mortality among all age groups (Fauci, et al. , 2008). Although there are promising new control and research initiatives globally, malaria remains to be what it has been for centuries past – a heavy burden on the tropical communities, a threat to non-endemic countries, and a danger to travelers (Fauci, et al. , 2008). This is the reason why community based public health intervention is still very important.
Prevention through the use of chemoprophylaxis should be encouraged and that these drugs should be made accessible and available especially to areas of epidemics. Chemoprophylaxis drugs prevent the successful infection of Plasmodium and are usually taken before going to an area with known malaria epidemic (Fauci, et al. , 2008). Moreover, the utilization of insecticide-treated nets and insecticides should be promoted to decrease frequency of mosquito bites particularly in malarious areas.
Indoor residual spraying should be employed to kill the Anopheles mosquitoes resting indoors and thereby controlling the vectors of malaria (Najera, Kouznetsov, & Delacollette, 1998; Greenwood & Mutabingwa, 2002). Community health workers should also be trained to enhance their ability to handle malaria cases. This would not only increase the chances of successful treatment but the survival of patients with malaria as well (Greenwood & Mutabingwa, 2002).
Finally, the value of personal protection and the serious implementation of ways to eradicate breeding grounds of vector mosquitoes should be instilled among the people. Personal protection includes avoidance of exposure to mosquitoes at their peak feeding time, which is usually during dusk and dawns; the use of insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin; and wearing of suitable clothing (Fauci, et al. , 2008). Public health education should be carried out to effectively communicate the gravity, urgency, and impact of malaria on the personal lives of the people.