April 25: World Malaria Day

A 4 years old child was admitted to the children ward at Magbenteh Community Hospital suffering from high fever (40⁰C), vomiting and diarrhea. He was having a form of acute Malaria.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease, typically found in tropical and subtropical climates where the parasites can live, it’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite is released into your bloodstream.

Malaria is especially dangerous for children because their immunity is low. Within a few days, a perfectly healthy child can collapse with a raging fever and develop severe complications, such as convulsions or anemia.

Although the world as a whole has been accelerating progress in reducing the under-5 mortality rate, disparities exist in under-5 mortality across regions and countries. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest under-5 mortality rate in the world. In 2018, under5 mortality rate for Sierra Leone was 108.31[1] deaths per thousand live births, which ranks it as the 4th worst country in the world on the list of world bank [2] and Malaria is considered one of the main reasons for death among children under 5 years old.

In 2019, MCH has treated over 2558 patients with Malaria, half of which are children under-5. Although the treatment is for free, parents often wait until symptoms are severe before seeking professional help which at some times can lead to death. In which cases MCH has lost 17 children due to Malaria.

The first years of life are very challenging for parents in Sierra Leone, but MCH staff always urges the parents to work on prevention of Malaria such as using mosquito nets over the baby beds, spraying pesticides and keeping the household environment clean. All deemed necessary to help prevent such disease. However sometimes these measures are not even applied.

World Malaria Day is celebrated in April 25th by the World Health Organization to End Malaria in promoting “Zero Malaria starts with me”, a grassroots campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.

Between 2000 and 2014, the number of malaria-related deaths fell by 40% worldwide but in recent years, progress has ground to a standstill. In 2019, the first RTS, S Malaria vaccine that can significantly reduce malaria in children – the group at highest risk of dying from malaria- has started through the pilot implementation program[3].  In hopes for success for such lifesaving news, Magbenteh Community Hospital continue to provide its community with the necessary treatments and help.

[1] Source : https://knoema.com/atlas/Sierra-Leone/topics/Demographics/Mortality/Under-5-mortality-rate

[2] Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_and_under-five_mortality_rates

[3] Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/photo-story/photo-story-detail/the-malaria-vaccine-first-babies