It is widely known that Malaria is one of the world’s largest killers with eight new cases reported every second. Over the past decade many countries have seen progress in reducing the number of deaths from Malaria with a 50% drop in India in the last 13 years and a 62% drop in the pacific region. However, what is not known is that the problem maybe far larger than suspected with figures becoming unreliable and many deaths being unrecorded.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease which is caused by parasites called Plasmodium carried by mosquitoes which act as carriers who then inject the deadly disease into a human’s blood stream. Once there, it can take from weeks to months to notice the flu like symptoms such as headaches, high temperatures and muscle pain and with more severe cases leading to breathing problems, organ failure, coma’s and in some cases death. However if diagnosed early enough, all strains of Malaria are completely treatable and curable. This means the main cause of death from Malaria is simply down to lack of knowledge of when to tell when you have caught the disease or taking the right precautions beforehand.
Recorded cases of Malaria
In 2010, there were 216 million reported cases of Malaria and an estimated 655,000 deaths across 100 countries. With, globally, over 1 billion people living in high Malaria risk areas, such as Africa with Malaria being the largest cause of death, the need to act now is still necessary. Certain precautions such as Nets and Malaria tablets could save millions of lives however there is not enough awareness. Another issue is people travelling unaware of the possibilities of catching Malaria, with the NHS stating that 1,700 UK nationals were diagnosed with Malaria in 2010 where they could of easily taken precautions.
The true cost of Malaria
However, an issue which may not tackle the disease directly but prevents the identification and spread of Malaria is that figures have been found to be unreliable in the countries worst effected by Malaria. This along with other certain factors means that the figures potentially may not even be close to their real size. This Malaria calculator shows for every one confirmed Malaria case there can be up to three suspected cases and this can be due to the hundreds of people who do not seek medical attention, or do but visit facilities but are not recorded. More controversially, it has been speculated that some countries are inflating their Malaria figures in order to get more financial help meaning that it is hard to gauge the problem and act appropriately.
What can be done?
If there was a greater awareness of the symptoms of Malaria in countries which are the worse affected then people would know what symptoms to look for and what to do in the event of developing them. As well as this, a better infrastructure system for recording cases in all medical centres would mean more accurate figures and a crackdown on countries that inflate their figures for financial gain. If you are planning to visit a country with high cases of Malaria then be sure to be prepared.