According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of the deadly disease of Malaria. The vast majority of malaria cases and malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by up to 126 other developing countries, where the disease is widespread and life threatening. Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide, and it is a leading cause of death and disease in many developing countries, where young children and pregnant women are most affected.
Malaria may not be a substantial threat in the UAE, but those who travel for work or pleasure may be exposed to the risk if traveling to a high-risk country. It is highly advisable to seek professional advice from a doctor if traveling to a malaria endemic country indicated on the map below.
Malaria-endemic countries in the Eastern Hemisphere
While governments are undertaking mass level plans & projects to defeat the disease, as individuals we also need a solid plan to combat it. To achieve that, we need to start by understanding the disease and ways to prevent it from spreading.
Symptoms of Malaria:
Malaria can begin with flu-like symptoms, and symptoms can appear in 7 days. The most common symptoms are very similar to many other infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses etc.
• Nausea and vomiting
• Dry (nonproductive) cough
• Muscle or back pain or both
• Enlarged spleen.
In severe cases, malaria can lead to impaired function of the brain or spinal cord,seizures, or loss of consciousness.
What needs to be done to prevent Malaria:
Awareness of risk:
If malaria is prevalent in an area you plan to travel to, seek advice from a certified doctor about taking preventive medicines.
For optimal prevention of malaria, protection from mosquito bites is essential. Carry mosquito repellants and preventive medicines, mosquito nets etc. Long trousers, long-sleeved clothing and socks thick enough to stop the mosquitoes biting will also help protect you
Diagnosis made promptly with early treatment of an infected case can help prevent and to a great extent defeat Malaria. As always, prevention is better than cure. Lastly, ensure if you are pregnant, or are planning to get pregnant, you avoid travelling to Malaria ridden regions.