Malaria document

CMI - Malaria Document

Objective:  Participants learn about MALARIA by answering selected questions, through group discussion.

 1.    Where does malaria come from?

Malaria is carried by female anopheles mosquitoes. 

 These mosquitoes live in hot humid areas, especially around stagnant water.  The female lays her eggs on the surface of stagnant waters.  But before she can lay eggs, she needs a certain amount of blood in her body.  That is why the female mosquitoes come out in the evening and at night looking for someone to bite.  Once the daylight comes, they look for dark places to hide.  They hide in tall grasses for example, or behind the furniture in a corner of your house.

The eggs that they lay on the surface of stagnant waters become in a few days time adult mosquitoes.  These leave the water and go in search of blood.  Soon the female return to lay their eggs and the cycle repeats.

 2.    How does the mosquito give someone malaria?

One day, a mosquito bites Joseph.  Joseph is healthy.  His blood does not contain any of the malaria parasites.  The mosquito can take his blood, but doesn't pick up any malaria parasites with the blood.  (Parasites are tiny creatures that you can't see without using a microscope.)

 Next the mosquito bites Mary.  Mary already has malaria.  Her blood is full of malaria parasites.  The mosquito bites her, and takes in a supply of parasites with her blood.

 A few days later, the same mosquito that bit Mary returns to Joseph.  This time, it bites him and puts some of the parasites from Mary's blood into Joseph's blood.  In about ten days, Joseph too will fall ill with malaria.

 The mosquito transfers the malaria parasites from the blood of a person sick with malaria to a healthy person.

 3.    What happens now that Joseph has malaria parasites in his blood?

The malaria parasites are too small to see with the naked eye.  However, they are very active.  They travel in Joseph’s blood until they reach the liver.  There they start to make Joseph ill.

 Then they reenter the blood stream of Joseph and circulate throughout his body.  They enter the red blood cells.  (The red blood cells are the part of the blood that carries oxygen and nutrients to the different parts of the body, an indispensable factor in remaining healthy.)  Inside the red blood cells the parasites multiply.  When done, they make the red blood cells burst so they can no longer carry oxygen.  It's now that Joseph begins to have a malarial fever.

 Joseph doesn't know that it is important to treat malaria quickly.  So the new malaria parasites that were released when the red blood cells burst go to live in other red blood cells.  They go on growing, multiplying and destroying more and more red blood cells until he is very sick.  He also now develops anaemia because too much of his blood has been destroyed.  His spleen is swollen and painful because it has too much work to do.  Malaria gives the spleen a lot of extra work to do.

 4.    What are the signs that a person has malaria?

A person with malaria has the following symptoms:

 -chills, a high fever and sweating

-tiredness and the need to lie down

-sometimes headaches, pain in the joints and vomiting

-no appetite

 If a person vomits more than 3 times a day, has a stiff neck, has convulsions or becomes delirious, he is seriously sick.  He could have cerebral malaria or even meningitis.

 In this case you must first bring down the fever by undressing the person completely, pouring cool water all over his body, and wrapping him in a cloth soaked in cool water.

Then, without losing any time, bring the person to the nearest Health Centers for treatment.

 5.    What is the best treatment?

Ask a community health worker or the pharmacist at the dispensary what the best treatment is.  In your area that may be Nivaquine, but there is other medication against malaria.  They will tell you which medication and how many tablets you should take.  You need to take the whole treatment, even if you feel better, because it is very important that you kill all the parasites.

 In certain areas, Nivaquine doesn’t work very well anymore.  In those areas the malaria parasites are used to small quantities of Nivaquine.  Taking Nivaquine does not kill these malaria parasites.  This is yet another reason why you should ask for information at health centers about what to do in case of a malaria attack.

 6.    Is it good to take Nivaquine as a preventive measure?

Only in certain cases.  Ask the community health worker or the nurse if someone in your family should take a preventive treatment.  If yes, he will tell you what dose of Nivaquine to take.  Taking Nivaquine in small doses can cause the malaria parasites to develop resistance to Nivaquine.  That is why it is very important to talk to the health worker about what you should do.  Only a few people should take Nivaquine regularly to prevent them from catching malaria, for example pregnant women and little children who are not healthy.

 7.    Are there things we can do in our villages to prevent malaria?

You can do many things as a community or as a family.  These things are just as important as medicines in the fight against malaria. 

 Now that you understand the disease and its causes, it will make sense to you to take the following preventive measures.

 Discourage the mosquitoes from staying in your village:

-Cut down tall grass around the houses to get rid of the places mosquitoes like to hide in.

 -        Clean your houses.  Let fresh air and sunlight come in your house during the daytime.

-        Cut the grass around ponds so mosquitoes will have no place to hide near the place where they would lay their eggs.

 You can prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in your village by:

-Covering water jars, wells, cisterns, tanks and all other water containers.

-Using a rubbish pit to bury all waste, such as tins, old tyres, banana leaves, and broken bottles.

-Filling in all the holes and ditches so that puddles cannot form when it rains.

-Keeping fish in the lakes that eat the young mosquitoes.

 You can prevent the mosquitoes from getting into your house by:

-Burning eucalyptus leaves, citronella leaves or green mosquito coils in the evening.

-Putting screens on all windows in the house or covering the windows and doorways.

 You can prevent mosquito bites by:

-Wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs in the evening.

-Sleeping under a sheet, or under a mosquito net.  This is especially important for young children and babies.  They are more likely to be bitten than adults because their skin is soft and they are less resistant to disease.  It is even better, if possible, to have a mosquito net that is impregnated with insecticide. 

Spend a little money now to prevent malaria.  Then you won't have to spend a lot of money later when your family is sick.  The illness costs much more than the prevention.  Do everything you can to chase the mosquitoes from your village.

 In areas with cattle, put the cattle in between the houses and the breeding places of mosquitoes.