#Article (Archive)

WMD: Let’s put malaria under control

Apr 25, 2016, 10:24 AM

As we commemorate World Malaria Day (WMD) today 25 April, it is very important that we remind ourselves of the fact that 25% of deaths registered annually in The Gambia are caused by malaria.

We should, therefore, do everything possible to keep ourselves safe from malaria attack; in other words put malaria under control.

Malaria is a killer disease; in fact, according to research findings, it is the highest killer disease in Africa. It is a threat not only to health, but also to national development, as it affects productivity in society.

In The Gambia, malaria is the probable cause of 4 per cent of infant deaths and 25 per cent of deaths in children 1 to 4 years, according to the director of planning at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

The disease, it has also been discovered, accounts for “considerable lost days of productivity among the adult population” in the country.

Our labour force is seriously affected by malaria, school children are prevented from being regular at school by malaria, the health bill of malaria is ever increasing household expenditure, and national development is year in year out hindered by malaria deaths of our human resource whilst increasing the national health bill of malaria. So let’s fight to control malaria.

As we observe WMD in line with the world, on the theme ‘End Malaria for Good’, let’s know that malaria kills an African child every 45 seconds.

Statistics also have it that the commonest malaria complications in children include cerebral malaria, severe anaemia, respiratory distress and hypoglycaemia.

It has also been noted that many children who survive an episode of severe malaria may suffer from learning impairments or brain damage, according to research findings.

For pregnant women, who are highly vulnerable to malaria, our health director states: “When a woman is pregnant, her immunity is reduced, making her more vulnerable to malaria infection with dangerous consequences such as abortion, stillbirth, premature delivery, and low-birth weight.”

Statistics has it that at least 24 million pregnancies are threatened each year in Africa and malaria causes up to 15 per cent maternal anaemia.

It also accounts for about 35 per cent of preventable low birth weight, which is also a major cause of problems in subsequent child development.

So in this malaria conundrum, what do we do?

According to the Ministry of Health through the National Malaria Control Programme, we should be making maximum use of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to meet universal coverage targets, as well as free access to reproductive and child health services, including prompt and effective treatment for malaria.

The interventions also include free intermittent preventive treatment services for pregnant women, indoor residual spraying across the country and widespread community education for behavioural change.

Although the task ahead for malaria control is colossal, as the health planning director says, malaria has to be tackled head-on.

It is killer disease; let’s cooperate to eradicate it from our society.

“Malaria prevention and control is the business of everyone.”

Dawda Ceesay