The Problem: Deadly Night Biters
Malaria is a killer disease that is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. For many people in Canada, the mosquito is symbolic of summer; a pesky nuisance while out at the park or around the camp fire. The reality for millions of others around the world is mosquitoes are deadly and carry a parasite known as malaria which is responsible for up to three million deaths each year. It’s hard to imagine.
The female anopheles mosquito carries four strains of malaria; falciparum is the most deadly and accounts for 95% of deaths in Uganda, Buy-a-Net’s first target country.
Malaria is only transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito; a person cannot give malaria directly to another person. The mosquito spreads the disease once it bites an infected person, then passes the parasite into another person through its bite.
If we stop the bite, we can stop malaria. That’s why bed nets are the most effective and cost efficient way in which to prevent malaria. The infected mosquitoes bite usually at night while people are asleep. The nets prevent the bite, and the insecticide on the nets kills the mosquito when it lands on it.
After the deadly bite
Malaria symptoms usually occur around 9 to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito bite. The symptoms are like those of a terrible flu – fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting and extreme weakness.
If drugs are not accessible or if the parasite is resistant, the impact of the disease is tragic and severe including coma, lifelong brain damage, paralysis and death.
Children under 5 years of age are especially vulnerable. If a child is not treated within 24-48 hours of the deadly bite, the child will likely die. Malaria is 100% treatable.
Somewhere in Africa, a mother loses her child to malaria every 45 seconds. Children have immature immune systems and small bodies making them particularly vulnerable to malaria.
Malaria accounts of one in five childhood deaths in Africa.
Pregnant women are also most vulnerable to malaria. Malaria in pregnant women can lead to low birth weight, anemia and greater risk of death to their newborns.
Malaria causes poverty and poverty causes malaria. Malaria costs African nations over $12 billion each year, due to lost productivity, children cannot go to school, trade and tourism suffers and health care costs. There is an enormous financial argument to be made for the eradication of malaria.
The solution is simple: the night bed nets are hung, lives are saved
Infected mosquitoes usually bite at night, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., while people are asleep. Sleeping under an insecticide treated bed netstops the bite, kills the mosquito when it lands on it, and has been shown to reduce malaria transmission by at least 50%, and as high as 95%.