Nonfiction in response to Good Health and Well-being
March 2018
By Karen Wu
CC Image Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

The disease malaria took about 445,000 lives in 2016 and infected about 216 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Malaria is transmitted by female mosquitoes and can eventually be fatal. The WHO fact sheet on malaria said that several groups were more susceptible to malaria, such as infants, children under age 5, and pregnant women. Although malaria may sound very terrifying, it is perfectly curable. As a matter of fact, some places have completely eliminated malaria. For example, according to the CDC, the United States eliminated malaria in the early 1950’s. Most of Europe, Australia, and a few Asian, South American, and African countries were also declared malaria-free. So why is the death count still so high?

 

Well, despite the fact that malaria has been eliminated in most developed countries, it is still widespread in less developed countries. For example, according to the WHO factsheet on malaria, the WHO African Region carried about 90% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths. When one thinks of how many countries have already eliminated malaria, these numbers can be alarming.

 

This vast disparity is mainly caused by access to healthcare, government aid in prevention, and water quality. Access to high-quality health care is typically less readily available in countries with higher malaria rates. In 2013, the World Bank said that approximately 80% of Africans relied on public health facilities, which are often of inferior quality. Furthermore, public health facilities commonly suffer from shortages of vital drugs, likely because these drugs were too expensive, as pointed out by an article in the African Renewal magazine by Tefo Pheage. The article said that “...less than 2% of drugs consumed in Africa are produced on the continent, meaning that many sick patients do not have access to locally produced drugs and may not afford to buy the imported ones.” This results in people being unable to receive the healthcare they need. Results from the past have also shown that when the government is very active in malaria prevention, malaria decreases. For example, in Europe, insecticide-treated nets were distributed and targeted towards pregnant women and children, who, again, are more vulnerable. This likely contributed to the eradication of malaria in Europe. Unsanitary water conditions have also contributed to the spreading of the disease. According to an article by The Water Project, unsanitary water makes an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes, which transmit the disease.

 

Malaria is many things. It is a potentially deadly disease. It is a horrible scrooge to mankind. And it is stoppable. However, there are still millions of cases of malaria and thousands of deaths around the world because of the lack of universal access to things necessary to stop malaria- accessible healthcare, ample government support, and sanitary water conditions. In order to stop malaria, humans must take action and make contributions, even tiny ones, to the overall effort to ensure good overall health for everyone.

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