The fight against malaria must begin at an individual level

9:23 am Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India

The T3 initiative of WHO must be followed by every country

New Delhi, 27 April 2019: A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has pointed out that while a formulation of about 24% DEET provided complete protection for over 300 minutes against mosquitoes, botanical repellents were able to protect for only about 20 minutes. The ones that work are lavender oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, eucalyptus oil, cedar oil, geranium oil.

The Anopheles mosquito that is known to be the transmitter of malaria is active at night, so a net is advisable. Insecticide-treated nets are available for better protection. Even if there is a hole or a small gap between the bed and net, the mosquito will not enter, claims the WHO’s book on insecticide-treated nets.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “There is still a long road ahead before the goal of elimination of malaria throughout the country by 2030 is achieved. Malaria is entirely a preventable disease. It is also treatable provided it is diagnosed and treated in time. The symptoms of malaria are non-specific and can be variable. So, it may be mistaken for other diseases such as viral infections, typhoid and the diagnosis of malaria may be missed as a result. It is important to remember here that malaria is not a clinical diagnosis; the diagnosis has to be confirmed by microscopy or a rapid diagnostic test (RDT). The ‘T3’ initiative of the WHO Global Malaria Program supports malaria-endemic countries in their efforts to achieve universal coverage with diagnostic testing and antimalarial treatment, as well as in strengthening their malaria surveillance systems.

After several years of steady declines, annual cases of the mosquito-borne disease have levelled off, according to the UN health agency’s 2018 malaria report. Malaria infects over 200 million people a year and killed 435,000 in 2017, mostly in Africa.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “T3 stands for Test. Treat. Track: every suspected malaria case should be tested; every confirmed case should be treated with a quality-assured antimalarial medicine; and the disease should be tracked through a timely and accurate surveillance system.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Malaria mosquitoes grow in fresh water collected in the house. It is therefore important to not let water stagnate in your house and the surrounding areas. Mosquito cycle takes 7-12 days to complete. So, if any utensil or container that stores water is cleaned properly once in a week, there are no chances of mosquito breeding.
  • Mosquitoes can lay eggs in money plant pots or in water tanks on the terrace if they are not properly covered. If the water pots for birds kept on terraces are not cleaned every week, then mosquitoes can lay eggs in them.
  • Using mosquito nets/repellents in the night may not prevent malaria because these mosquitoes bite during the day time.
  • Malaria mosquitoes do not make a sound. Therefore, mosquitoes that do not produce a sound do not cause diseases.
  • Wearing full sleeves shirt and trousers can prevent mosquito bites. Mosquito repellent can be helpful during the day.

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