Malaria – tis the season

In many parts of the tropical world malaria is seasonal, depending in large part upon rains.  If taken into account, seasonality can allow malaria program managers to plan better to serve different areas of their countries.  There are areas where a dry season or colder weather may appear to put a stop to transmission completely, but often minimal transmission manages to take place.

When we know that some areas have more intense malaria transmission during certain times of year, we can ensure that our interventions are in place well in advance of major rains.  Knowledge of seasonality can guide vector control efforts and help plan for increased stocks of medicines and diagnostic tests in clinics, for example.  Several examples of the need for such preparations have been in the news this weekend.

Malaria’s Day in Court

In India the Kolkata Municipal Corporation is apparently under legal investigation for inadequate supplies of malaria medicines in clinics in Bhowanipore, which is a malaria-prone area.  In a bid to find out what he needed to do, a medical officer unknowingly broke protocol and visited the judge hearing the case to get advice on how better to serve the people of the area.

Fortunately he was not reprimanded for his efforts to get ahead of impending malaria outbreaks.

Awaiting the Storm

gustav-hanna-ike-and-josephine-20080902.jpgAdding to Haiti’s existing medical chaos and suffering is the season of increasing rains.  People are still living in makeshift tents that given no protection when it comes to mosquitoes and malaria.

The Boston Globe reports that, “Some rain typically falls every month in Haiti, meteorologists say, but heavy downpours could begin as early as this month.”  As seen in the satellite photo from NOAA, Haiti was in the path of several major hurricanes and tropical storms in 2008 – so rains from these storms kill people directly through flooding, and those who survive can expect to be threatened with malaria.

ngamonthsrisk.jpgInterfaith Preparation

Nigeria accounts for at least one-fourth of the malaria deaths in Africa, according to AFP.  A major national net distribution is underway, which will hopefully make major inroads before the heavy rains start.

Planning is the key – we must understand the malaria transmission patterns in our countries and plan to get the material and human resources in place in a timely manner so that they will be effective in bringing down malaria morbidity and mortality.

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