02 January 2008

WHO sounds malaria alert

The World Health Organization has warned of above average malaria transmission in Southern Africa this season, reports say.

The World Health Organization has warned of above average malaria transmission in Southern Africa this season, Zimbabwe's Herald reported on Tuesday.

The WHO has urged travellers to malaria-prone countries to take preventive treatment when visiting the region.

Above normal
"Malaria transmission levels from November 2007 to May 2008 are expected to be above normal in most parts of Southern Africa.

"In East Africa, the period from October to May constitutes an important part of the rainy season whereby malaria transmission and epidemics can occur.

"In Southern Africa, the heavy rains and likelihood of flooding in certain areas from December on have a possibility of increasing the risk of malaria transmission in many parts of Southern Africa," Dr Abdoulie Jack from the WHO office in Harare said.

The highest risk of malaria is in countries where year round malaria transmission takes place, the Herald said.

These countries include Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Madagascar.

Dr Jack said people travelling to these countries as well as to Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea and Swaziland where seasonal malaria occurs were advised to take the same precautionary measures.

Malaria is a major public health problem and second leading cause of illness and deaths in Southern Africa, according to the Herald.

High death toll
It kills over 250 000 people every year in the region.

The WHO said travellers, tourists and holidaymakers should take anti-malaria medication as advised by their health worker or doctor before entering a malaria risk area and continue while in the area and in the next four weeks after leaving the area.

Dr Jack said that they should also seek medical treatment if they develop flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, muscular and joint pains. Other signs of malaria include sweating, shivering and fatigue.

Dr Jack said the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets could also go a long way in protecting people from mosquitoes.

Applying insect repellents before dark to exposed skin to prevent mosquito bites was also advised, while pregnant women should take medication as prescribed by their doctor. – (Sapa)

Read more:
Malaria Centre

January 2008


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.