Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13, 2013 - Spotlight on the M Word

Malaria.  No, we don't have it.  But since it is on our minds a lot right now and I've mentioned it in my last blog, I thought I would share some data recently released from the World Bank.  Excerpts are quoted directly or summarized from here.

"With an estimated 10 million malaria cases in 2010, the World Health Organization considers Tanzania to be one of the four countries with the highest malaria prevalence in Africa, along with Nigeria, DRC and Uganda."  But new data shows that from 2007-08 to 2011-12, fewer children and malaria deaths decreased signficantly from 2006 to 2012.  So that's good news.

"Tanzania’s recent success in reducing malaria-related morbidity and mortality can be linked to a significant scale up of interventions aimed at preventing transmission of the malaria parasite, controlling mosquito populations, and improving treatment". 78% of children under the age of 5 slept under a treated bed night last year, which had more than doubled since 2008.  Many nets are funded and distributed by development partners in Tanzania like USAID.  There has also been an increase in households getting sprayed with insecticides.

So all of that is great news here in Tanzania.  We still get very stressed any time one of us has a fever or if we hear that someone we know has it (which has been quite a few people lately).  A malarial mosquito bites at night between 10 pm and 4 am, and that mosquito got infected originally by biting someone who had malaria.  So if our neighbor has gotten malaria then we get a little worried since we are more likely to share mosquitos with her at night...which is also why we definitely sleep under nets.

Problems that still remain here are that pregnant women aren't given proper antimalarial drugs and many children under the age of five are getting early diagnoses.  This is why malaria is still a leading cause of death amongst infants and children here. Another issue is that people are often treated for malaria with confirming that they actually have it.  In some parts of the country children are given malaria medication if they have a fever without any blood test to see if they definitely have it. 

If you are ever looking for an African cause to donate to - definitely look for programs that provide malaria prevention, detection or education (the education bit is key or people use them for other things - like fishing! - and then the nets are waster).  Examples are here and here and here.


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