Friday, 26 May 2017

Why Rates of Malaria Are on the Decline

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While malaria still causes a tragic number of deaths among young children living in certain parts of the world, its incidence is on the decline. WHO reported that malaria incidence rates fell by 21 percent between 2010 and 2015, while malaria mortality rates fell by 29 percent globally and 31 percent in the African region.

During the same time period, the rate of malaria mortality among children under 5 years also fell by 35 percent. The use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets has been touted as the "cornerstone of malaria prevention efforts" in sub-Saharan Africa, according to WHO, with 53 percent of those at risk sleeping under a treated net in 2015 (compared to 30 percent in 2010).

Indoor spraying of insecticides is also used in some areas, marking a sad trade-off of one set of health risks for another, as insecticides are toxic in their own right. Even the widely banned DDT is still used to control mosquitoes in some countries. Further, there is some concern that mosquitoes are developing resistance to at least one class of insecticides used in the nets and spraying. Malaria is treatable, but growing resistance to malaria drugs is a concern. WHO reported:

"In many countries, progress in malaria control is threatened by the rapid development and spread of antimalarial drug resistance. To date, parasite resistance to artemisinin — the core compound of the best available antimalarial medicines — has been detected in [five] countries of the Greater Mekong subregion."

In addition, the ability to resist diseases like malaria requires a strong immune system, and for that, you require good nutrition, clean drinking water and sanitation — three elements that are lacking for many children affected by this disease. If we want to help lower malaria rates, it would be wise to focus on these basics first. In order to eradicate infectious disease from a nation, you have to first address compromised immune systems.

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