Malaria is a clinical disease caused by a parasite called Plasmodium which is carried and transmitted through an infected Anopheles mosquito bite. Malaria will cause recurrent attacks of fever and chills, headache, and flu-like symptoms. This disease when left untreated can lead to serious complications and becomes fatal to the human host. In 2010, over 219 Million cases of Malaria worldwide were recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where 660,000 victims died within the year. Malaria can be fatal and has become a major health concern especially with a country’s tourism. Prospective tourists can take necessary preventive measures and anti-malarial prophylaxis if they are aware of the relative risk of contracting the disease. The following top 10 countries have the highest incidence of malaria mortality as of 2012 as reflected in the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Statistics report for 2013.
10. Ivory Coast
The Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire) government has recognized malaria as the most important public health priority. Malaria is the number one cause of mortality among children below 5 years old of age, killing an estimate of 63,000 children per year. The goal is to foster malaria education to the population to prevent its spread.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has tagged malaria as a national killer, killing more than 200 Congo children everyday where a majority of them are less than 5 years of age. Tourist are advised to take anti-malaria prophylaxis like Lariam and Malarone, the drug chloroquine is no longer effective against the malarial strains in Congo. The use of treated mosquito nets, air conditioning, beddings and insect repellants among tourists are highly advised.
In Mozambique, malaria is the number one child killer, causing 57% of all child mortality in the country. In 2011 alone, 10.3% of the children population was silenced by the Plasmodium parasite. The government of Mozambique has an all out campaign against malaria launching their anti-malaria consortiums and local Health Ministry malarial control initiatives to actively control the disease.
An estimated 97% of the Nigerian population is at risk for malaria. Almost 300,000 deaths in Nigeria are secondary to Malaria and its complications. Maternal deaths with malaria reach 11% as of 2011. A total of $600 Million of external funding was given to Nigeria between 2004 and 2010. Funds were used for insecticide treated nets, insecticide spraying and funding health workers to educate the public.
As of 2007, an estimated 800,000 cases of malaria was diagnosed in Mali constituting 7% of the total population. Malaria is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in children below 5 years of age. The government of Mali has joined world initiatives to rollback malaria cases through increased state funding, insecticide fumigation and health education.
In Guinea, 14% of all childhood deaths are due to Malaria. The government is an active member of the President’s Malaria Initiative of WHO to rid malaria. The US Malaria Global coordinators have donated million of dollars to Guinea to save millions of children from malaria through anti-malarial medicines. Mosquitoes in Guinea also carry the meningitis virus, thus tourist should always be protected from both.
4. Central African Republic
The recent political strife and rebellion in Central Africa has displaced WHO workers back to the capital for safety, leaving millions exposed in Malaria infested areas without medical support. Central African Republic has recognized for years that the malaria burden is one of the major issues of the republic, killing 169 citizens for every 100,000 population each year.
Malaria remains to be a major public health issue affecting 1 every 1000 population in the republic. The top artists in the republic has joined hands and launched the “Stop Palu (Stop Malaria)” campaign nationwide, promoting songs that educate the public on how to prevent malaria. Tourists are strongly urged to take precaution and prophylaxis before their next visit to Chad.
2. Sierra Leone
Malaria is the most common cause of death and morbidity in Sierra Leone. Children under 5 and pregnant women are the most vulnerable. As of 2011, 24% of all the children in Sierra Leone are stricken with malaria. The government is already distributing 3.2 Million of insecticide treated nets to prevent Anopheles mosquitoes to its high risk populace.
1. Burkina Faso
The former name of this nation is Upper Volta, was a French colony and was later called Burkina Faso meaning “Land of Honest People”. The nation has the highest mortality for malaria disease in the world killing 2 out of 1000 population per year. Malaria is the number one cause of mortality and morbidity in Burkina Faso. Tourists are strictly advised to take anti-malaria prophylaxis like Lariam, Malarone and Doxycycline. Mosquitoes in this nation are also known to transmit yellow fever and viral meningitis in a significant number of tourists.
The CDC reports that 91% of all cases are located in the African continent where there are still jungles and marsh lands that breeds the carrier mosquito near human settlement. Though treated mosquito nets, insect repellants and malarial prophylaxis can afford adequate protection, its best to avoid the places near jungles, marshes and rivers in your next African Safari escapade.