In Malawi, Malaria continues to be a major public health problem with an estimated 6 million cases occurring annually.
How can malaria be prevented?
Malaria is preventable and curable. Some of the main methods of prevention are:
- Insecticide-treated bed nets. Most malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite at night, so insecticide-treated mosquito nets can be a life-saving barrier. It is important that nets are easy to get hold of – either offered at a subsidised price or given away for free – and that they are designed in a way that is suitable for the local context. Awareness campaigns are also important to make sure that they are used effectively.
- Treating women during pregnancy. Pregnant women have lower immunity. Doses of anti-malarials during pregnancy can protect both mother and child.
- Health education. An important part of preventing malaria and malaria deaths is improving people’s understanding of the disease. This includes how to use nets properly to avoid being bitten, awareness of the symptoms, how to get treatment, the importance of getting treatment quickly (particularly for children), and the need to finish a full course of drugs and not stop when you feel better.
- Environmental methods. Getting rid of pools of stagnant water, clearing bushes from around houses and planting lemon grass can all reduce the number of mosquitoes nearby.
How is malaria treated?
There are a number of effective drugs available to treat malaria but speedy diagnosis and immediate treatment are essential. The majority of deaths from severe malaria in children are caused by not getting to a clinic in time. Some forms of malaria can be fatal within days or even hours once they develop, but malaria can usually be cured if treated quickly. Those who survive may still suffer lasting health problems.