October 7, 2021 5:30:52 pm
The World Health Organization on October 6 called for “widespread” use of the first-ever vaccine for malaria — RTS,S, or Mosquirix — a common mosquito-borne disease that claims numerous lives annually.
“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, according to an official statement.
Developed by Glaxo SmithKline, a British drug maker, the “recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019,” the statement further read.
While it is yet to be approved in India, here’s what you need to know about the mosquito-borne disease.
What is malaria?
The disease, transmitted by the bites of infected mosquitoes, is caused by parasites. As per reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO), India alone accounted for 89 per cent deaths due to malaria in the South Asian region in the year 2006, and over half of the nation’s population was prone to the disease. The organisation also says that since 2014, major outbreaks of dengue, malaria, chikungunya yellow fever, and Zika have afflicted populations, claimed lives and overwhelmed health systems in many countries.
There are still more than 200 million cases of malaria reported annually around the world, claiming nearly 50,000 lives, according to the authors of a 2019-Lancet study which concluded in the affirmative when it comes to malaria eradication by 2050.
The study also stated that malaria continues to trap countries in cycles of inequity, with 85 per cent of global deaths reported in 2017 coming from 29 nations.
One can experience symptoms like fever, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain and fatigue, sweating, and headaches. However, symptoms usually start about 10-15 days after the infected mosquito bite, said Dr Shuchin Bajaj founder-director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals
According to Dr Bajaj, a blood test can confirm whether you have malaria. WHO has recommended that all suspected malaria cases must be validated via parasite-based clinical testing, as it only requires 30 minutes to implement this procedure. Only when the test is unavailable, should one diagnose via observing symptoms.
WHO also suggests using Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) for treating falciparum malaria, and Chloroquine-based therapy for vivax malaria. With the aim to remove the parasite from the bloodstream, the benefits of the procedure include — high efficiency, fast action, and reduced likelihood of resistance developing.
Use mosquito-repellents and wear full-sleeved clothes. Do not allow water to stagnate anywhere in or near the house. Keep your surroundings clean, watch out for common symptoms of malaria and immediately report to the doctor, said Dr Vikrant Shah, infectious disease expert, Zen Hospital.
Fogging, or spraying of disinfectant must be done from time-to-time, too.
Some other measures include:
*Keep the windows and doors closed in the evening in mosquito-infested regions.
*Have screens/wire mesh to cover windows and doors and check their integrity.
*Use a mosquito net over your bed (Permethrin-coated nets, if available).
*Use/plugin mosquito repellents to avoid mosquito bites.
*Apply mosquito repellent to the exposed skin.
Malaria can be a life-threatening condition, especially if you’re infected with the parasite P.falciparum. Treatment is typically provided in a hospital. Your doctor will prescribe medications based on the type of parasite that you have, Dr Bajaj said. “In some instances, the medication prescribed may not clear the infection because of parasite resistance to drugs. If this occurs, your doctor may need to use more than one medication or change medications altogether,” noted Dr Bajaj.
Additionally, certain types of malaria parasites, such as P. vivax and P. ovale, have liver stages where the parasite can live in your body for an extended period of time and reactivate at a later date causing a relapse of the infection. “If you’re found to have one of these types of malaria parasites, you’ll be given a second medication to prevent a relapse in the future,” added Dr Bajaj.
📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
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