Malaria, an entirely preventable and treatable disease,
still kills an estimated 660 000 people worldwide every year; these are mainly
children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa is the most
affected continent with about 90% of all malaria deaths. Every year, about 219
million cases occur.
However, unlike the rest of Africa, South Africa has been
hugely successful in the fight against malaria, mainly due to the Department of
Health’s malaria prevention program. This program, which incorporated the World
Health Organisation’s guidelines on the prevention of malaria, includes,
amongst others, the use of controlled indoor spraying of insecticide.
Use of appropriate
Apart from such
non-drug measures, this program also provides guidance on the use of
appropriate medication to prevent malaria infection. Thanks to these
endeavours, South Africa received the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)
award for excellence in the fight against malaria earlier this year.
According to their medical director, Dr Nic de Jongh, Cipla
Medpro will continue to support the government in its efforts to eliminate the
spread of malaria within South African borders by the year 2018. Cipla Medpro
sells Mefliam, which is currently the number one-selling drug (in terms of
number of packs) for the prevention of malaria in South Africa.
Cipla Medpro also has
the government tender to supply Mefliam to state hospitals. By bringing quality
and affordable antimalarial medicines within the reach of every South African,
Cipla Medpro is living its credo that none shall be denied.
Reducing malaria by
more than 75%
Cipla Medpro applauds the Department of Health’s success.
According to the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report published in
December 2012, South Africa is one of only eight countries in the African
region that have managed to reduce malaria transmission by over 75 %. As such, the country is on track to reach its
target of reducing the incidence of malaria by more than 75% in 2015.
“It is still important that people travelling to
malaria-prone areas remember that the disease can be prevented by taking the
appropriate prophylactic medication and following precautionary measures,” says
Pete Vincent, medical advisor to Netcare Travel Clinics.
Lee Baker, member of the Malaria Advisory Group subcommittee
(SCAT) and the Southern African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM), says that
malaria is normally only transmitted in three provinces in South Africa
(Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal) with transmission occurring
predominantly between September and May.
However, the National
Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD) this year reported two clusters of
Odyssean malaria, that is, the acquisition of malaria in a non-endemic area by
the bite of an imported mosquito. These clusters were in the Gauteng area.
malaria through mosquitoes
“Mosquitos may be imported to a non-endemic area by a
variety of transport routes such is in cars or minibuses from neighbouring
malaria countries like Mozambique or Zimbabwe. Such mosquitoes may survive up
to three weeks depending on environmental conditions, and if infected, have the
potential to transmit malaria to humans. Malaria should always be considered in
patients with unexplained fever even in the absence of a suggestive travel
history,” advises Vincent.
Vincent says that common malaria symptoms develop 10 to 14
days after an infective bite, but may develop much later, and include flu-like
symptoms (headache, fever, myalgia). Other symptoms include rigors, sweating,
tiredness, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
He also says that many myths currently exist around the
Myth: Gin & tonic works just as well as any prophylaxis available.
Truth: Gin (or any other alcohol for that matter) does not
provide any protection against the malaria parasite and prophylaxis should
never be substituted with Gin or other alcohol.
makes the disease undetectable.
Truth: Although Malaria prophylaxis is suppose to
"kill" malaria parasites as they leave the liver, most modern
laboratories can still detect the disease in the blood of a victim. In most
cases a negative result with continued illness will warrant a second and third
blood smear examination. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO)
recommends 7 tests to completely eliminate the possibility of Malaria. If you
have malaria it will be found, even while taking prophylaxis.
prophylaxis have the same side effects.
Truth: Most travellers don't suffer any side effects from
prophylaxis. Every antimalarial tablet has a different set of side effects and
the best choice of tablet should be made in consultation with a travel clinic
or an ‘informed’ Medical Practitioner.
“If travelling to a malaria-prone area, seek the advice of
your doctor or local travel clinic beforehand and be sure to take the
appropriate prophylactic medication, as prescribed by your doctor.
Also be sure to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites by
regularly applying insect repellent to exposed skin, sleeping under a
mosquito-proof net, and using coils or aerosol insecticides indoor. Be sure to
know the signs and symptoms of malaria in the event that you contract the
disease,” advises De Jongh.