Call for new approach to malaria

04 September 2013 09:26

Over 600,000 people died from the malaria in 2010, most African children

Over 600,000 people died from the malaria in 2010, most African children

With mosquitoes becoming ever more resistant to insecticides, scientists claim there is a growing need for different approaches to help control malaria.

The disease is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions in a broad band around the equator, particularly in Africa and Asia.

Symptoms typically include fever and headache, which in severe cases can progress to coma or death, and researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine want to see more done to prevent malaria from spreading.

They believe targeting mosquito breeding sites is likely to be increasingly necessary to reduce cases of malaria in Africa and Asia.

Although the number of deaths from malaria has fallen by a quarter in the last decade, more than 600,000 people died from the disease in 2010.

The widespread distribution of mosquito nets treated with insecticides and the use of indoor insecticide sprays has helped curb malaria to a certain extent, but the scientists warn the insects are becoming increasingly resistant to these chemicals.

They propose authorities should also use a method called "larval source management" to help keep the disease under control.

This is where mosquito larvae found in stagnant water like paddy fields or ditches are killed off by draining or flushing the land before they get a chance to develop. It also involves something called larviciding, where chemicals are added to standing water.

The method was found to significantly reduce both the number of cases of malaria by up to 75% and the proportion of people infected with the malaria parasite by up to 90% when used in appropriate settings.

But despite the findings, the World Health Organization claims the research is not robust enough to support larval source management, and it is not recommended for use in rural areas where breeding grounds are hard to find.

Travellers heading to continents such as Africa and Asia should therefore continue to use the various insecticides on offer in shops. They should also protect themselves with medical travel insurance for added peace of mind.

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