Dec 11, 2014, 10:21 AM
Ms Kay Sey, Concern Universal (CU) Health Coordinator, has advised people to always sleep under insecticide treated bed nets to protect themselves from mosquito bites thus prevent malaria infection.
Ms Sey sent out this advice while presenting a paper during the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) meeting with CU partners and its stakeholders at the CU office in Fajara.
Speaking on the theme "Health Advice on Recent Flood in The Gambia", Ms Sey said: "As the rains begin to ease the incidence of malaria will increase, as mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed".
"It will take some weeks before the water puddles and lakes will dry up and so everyone should be alert on the health situation."
All children under 5 years of age and pregnant women should be sleeping under bed nets, as they are particularly vulnerable, she said, warning people to avoid sitting outside for long hours at night as this can increase their risk of attracting mosquitoe bites.
"The female anopheles mosquito, which transmits the malaria parasite, feeds on blood," she explains, saying that such mosquitoes are most active between sunset and sunrise.
She advised everyone to wear socks, long trousers, long sleeve shirts and anything that would cover their bodies properly as well as apply mosquito repellent to exposed parts of their bodies if they choose to sit outside for long.
"If any member(s) of your family develops fever go for malaria test because it is important not to wait to see symptoms; use reliable laboratory and do not take malaria treatment without a blood test," she said.
Some pharmacies, she said, do diagnose malaria without malaria test, adding that the national policy recommends treatment only after a confirmed diagnosis.
She discouraged the public from the use of Chloroquine to treat malaria, saying the WHO has recommended the use of Coartem.
"Coartem is available in all health facilities across the country and can be bought in pharmacies, while syrup is available for small children," she said.
With the recent flooding, many communities have had pit latrines and wells flooded with faecal matter which mix with the flood water and "anyone walking through it will be exposed to bacteria".
According to Ms Sey, as people are going about their daily business, some of the mixed faecal matters will stick on their shoes. "It is therefore very important to reinforce good hand-washing habits at this time," she said.
She also advised the public to use uncontaminated water to wash vegetables, particularly those not cooked before consumption. "If you develop diarrhoea with or without fever please increase your fluid," she said, adding: "At this time of the year as the heat increases - and it is still very humid - chest infections can be a problem, and if you have cough with fever, cough with night time sweats or a cough that has lasted for more than two weeks, see the doctor for medical attention."