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Malaria — Facts for Life

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Malaria is a serious disease spread through mosquito bites. The World Health Organization estimates that around 250 million malaria episodes occurred in 2006, resulting in nearly 1 million deaths. About 90 per cent of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, most among children under age 5.

Malaria is found in many regions of the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is a leading cause of death, illness, and poor growth and development among young children. It is estimated that a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds in this area.

Malaria is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Some 50 million pregnant women are exposed to malaria each year. Malaria during pregnancy contributes to nearly 20 per cent of low-birthweight babies in endemic areas, plus anaemia, stillbirth and even maternal deaths.

Malaria is spread by the bite of an Anopheles mosquito. The mosquito transfers the malaria parasite, Plasmodium, from person to person. People get very sick with high fevers, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, chills and flu-like illness. Especially in children, the disease can worsen rapidly, causing coma and death. Children under 5 years old are most susceptible to malaria because they have very little acquired immunity to resist it.

Many lives can be saved by preventing malaria and treating it early. Children and their family members have the right to quality health care for prompt and effective treatment and malaria prevention.

Governments, in collaboration with communities and non-governmental and community-based organizations, can minimize the number of malaria cases. They need to support preventive actions, such as distributing long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets for families to sleep under.

MalariaKey messages:

Malaria, which is transmitted through mosquito bites, can be fatal.

Wherever malaria is present, people should sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets; any child with a fever should be examined by a trained health worker for treatment and sponged gently with cool (not cold) water; and pregnant women should take antimalarial tablets as recommended by a trained health worker.

1. Malaria is transmitted through the bites of some mosquitoes. Sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net is the best way to prevent mosquito bites.
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2. Wherever malaria is present, children are in danger. A child with a fever should be examined immediately by a trained health worker and receive an appropriate antimalarial treatment as soon as possible if diagnosed with malaria. Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are recommended by WHO for treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. It is the most serious type of malaria and causes nearly all malaria deaths.

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3. Malaria is very dangerous for pregnant women. Wherever malaria is common, they should prevent malaria by taking antimalarial tablets recommended by a trained health worker and by sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.

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4. A child suffering or recovering from malaria needs plenty of liquids and foods.

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Watch More Videos — Malaria Library

27 June, 2014


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