6 November 2019 is SADC Malaria Day. World Malaria Day is celebrated every year in April and this year focused on #EndMalaria. But what is happening closer to home on the continent?
A small town, Arus Village in Solai, in the Nakuru County in Kenya has recently been gripped with panic following the death of 3 people in a week due to malaria. Residents have been urged to visit health facilities in the area for a malaria check-up. The symptoms of malaria include; diarrhoea, high fever, chills, headaches, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and profuse sweating. According to the World Health Organization, the early symptoms; fever, headache, and chills may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria.
Nakuru County health executive Dr Gichuki Kariuki said having regular check-ups is the only solution. He termed the deaths unfortunate, adding that had the patients visited health facilities on noting the 1st symptoms, they could have been saved. "We urge residents of Solai and Nakuru as a whole to ensure they go for check-ups in our health facilities whenever they spot symptoms" he said.
Nakuru is facing challenges when it comes to malaria, as the national government has not been providing mosquito nets since malaria prevalence is low. This is because Solai is located 1952m above sea level, and generally, malaria activity is confined to areas below 1500m. It is unusual to have an outbreak at this altitude but a warmer climate moving the altitude limit of malaria transmission upwards is a possible explanation.
What to do if you are travelling to a malaria area?
Prevention is better than cure, so it is best to try to follow these practical tips:
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites by sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.
- Wear socks, long pants, long-sleeve shirts and blouses.
- Spray mosquito repellent onto your clothes and the exposed parts of your skin.
- Make sure the room doors and windows are closed properly and screened with gauze to prevent mosquitoes from getting in.
- Spray the room with an insecticide before entering.
- Pregnant women and young children should avoid travelling to malaria-prone areas.
- Be sure to get the right anti-malarial medicines for the country where you are travelling to
Make an appointment at Campus Health Service and see a Travel Doctor to make sure you are prepared for your travels.
Make an appointment here.