Malaria is a killer disease in Africa. It is estimated that over five million people succumb to malaria every year. Malaria is a disease commonly transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito. This parasite thrives where the sorroundings are bushy and also where there exists stagnant pools of water (Fosu &Mwabu, 2007). The stagnant pools of water form the breeding place of the mosquitoes while the bushes form the hiding place of the mosquitoes. It is from these bushes that the mosquitoes emerge later on in the evening to bite people. Malaria has been the number one killer in Africa and so efforts have been made to find ways in which this disease can be curtailed. These efforts mainly centre on prevention and cure of the disease. The article under review is one that attempts to tackle the question of malaria prevention and cure in Africa. The title of the article is “decentralize malaria diagnosis and treatment in Africa”. This article has been written by George Okello and Nina Cromeyer Dieke. Okello is a research fellow at the Kenya Medical Research Institute while Dieke works for Global Atlas for Helminth Infections as the communications manager. This article appearred on the guardian, a UK online newspaper, on Teusday 12th February, 2013. The article can be accessed by following the following link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development-professionals-network/2013/feb/12/malaria-control-prevention-africa-community-health-workers
This article is about how malaria killings in Africa can be countered. The article proposes various ways in which this scourge can be countered, as well as providing factual and practical examples of countries or places where these strategies have been implemented with a degree of success. The article also mentions the traditional bottlenecks to malaria prevention and treatment in Africa, issues which greatly contribute to the high number of deaths due to this disease. The article also provides alternative means, or areas in which the authorities can look at if it wants to widen its net on malaria prevention and treatment.
The article starts with mentioning the investment made towards malaria treatment and prevention. It quickly notes, however, that the challenge in Africa is not actually the availability of malaria treatment drugs, rather, accessibility is the issue. This, it attributes to poor health infrastructure which means access to treatment involving, for example, microscopic blood screening difficult in Africa. The remedy for this is the Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDT’s). This, the article argues, will improve the accessibility of malaria treatment. These kits therefore, need to be widely distributed and especially in worst hit areas. Community health workers can be used to operationalize these kits. Research has shown that if the community health workers are trained, they can really be effective in stoping malaria. Even with the RDT’s blood screening in Africa is a difficult matter. To counter this, community health workers should be elected by the people and opinion leaders should also be used to convince people to take tests. The decentralization of treatment from the health centres to the communities will even help reduce wastages of drugs due to the failure of the people to go get them. All these, though, must be backed up by education on malaria. Specifically, the public should be informed of the symptoms and signs, so that they can take action early enough, and also how to prevent malaria. Other places like schools, can also be used to carry out malaria screening and treatment among the children.
Health facilities in Africa are mostly scattered between long distance so access is very difficult. The government should use more community health workers to get the health services to the people. The health workers should be given sufficient training as this will give the people more confidence in them, making them more willing to consult them. opinion leaders and other influential people should also be put to good use, in demystifying blood screening myths. This will increase number of treatments. Education is the most important, though, as many people in Africa are not aware of what symptoms point towards what disease. This will help them seek medical advice or even reduce the time they spend in the heath care facility when they go for treatment.
This article has taught me three things. First, that the malaria problem in Africa is mainly because of lack of access to treatment, rather than lack of treatment facilities and drugs. Secondly, malaria need not be a killer of the proportions it is today in Africa. The combination of RDT’s and community health workers can effectively end malaria. Lastly, that education and passing information to the community can help a great deal in dealing with the problem that is malaria.
The article has many strengths. It firstly identifies the problem and then goes to explain in great detail of how the problem can be solved. Its weakness is that it gives general statements in some instances, like when it talks about the blood screening problem in Africa. This may be a problem but it affects very small proportion of the population in Africa (Person, 2010).
The article is about why Africa is so badly affected by malaria. It also offers workable solutions to the problem. The article has been very informative to me.
Fosu, K.A & Mwabu, G. (2007). Malaria and Poverty in Africa. University of Nairobi Press.
Person, S. (2010). Malaria: Super Killer. Bearport Publishing.
Okello, G. & Dieke, C.N.(2013). Decentralize Malaria Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa. the
guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development-professionals-network/2013/feb/12/malaria-control-prevention-africa-community-health-workers