Malaria is a serious life-threatening parasitic disease caused by parasites known as Plasmodium vivax (P.vivax), Plasmodium falciparum (P.falciparum), Plasmodium malariae (P.malariae) and Plasmodium ovale (P.ovale). Its transmission takes place through the infective bite of Anopheles mosquito. Man develops this disease after 10–14 days of being bitten by an infective mosquito.
Every year April 25 is celebrated as “World Malaria Day” across the globe in an effort to provide effective control of the disease. This occasion also provides a common platform for the affected countries to share experiences, showcase technologies and collaborate in programs in the fight against malaria.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF MALARIA
Symptoms of malaria include fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur. Malaria may cause anemia and jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin and eyes) because of the loss of red blood cells. Infection with one type of malaria, P. falciparum, if not promptly treated, may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death.
POPULATION AT RISK
In 2015, approximately 3.2 billion people—nearly half of the world’s population—were at risk of malaria.
Maximum number of malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Asia, Latin America, and, to a lesser degree, the Middle East, are also at risk. In 2015, 97 countries and territories had ongoing malaria transmission.
- According to the latest WHO estimates, released in December 2015, there were 214 million cases of malaria in 2015 and 438,000 deaths.
- Between 2000 and 2015, malaria incidence among populations at risk reduced by 37% globally; during the same period, malaria mortality rates among populations at risk registered a decline by 60%. An estimated 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted globally since 2001.
- Sub-Saharan Africa continues to contributethe highest share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region accounted for 88% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths.
PREVENTIVE MEASURES FOR CONTROLLING MALARIA
- Taking antimalarial drugs to kill the parasites
- Eliminating places where mosquitoes breed
- Spraying insecticides to kill adult mosquitoes that come inside
- Sleeping under bed nets—especially effective if they have been treated with insecticide, e.g. insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and
- Wearing insect repellent and long-sleeved clothing if out of doors at night.
CURRENT SCENARIO OF MALARIA VACCINE
- Effective malaria vaccine could helpeliminate and eradicate malaria; there are currently 63 vaccine candidates, 41in preclinical and clinical stages of development.
- Vaccines are being designedto target pre-erythrocytic stages, erythrocytic stage or the sexual stages ofPlasmodium taken up by a feeding mosquito, or the multiple stages
- Twovaccines in preclinical and clinical development target falciparum; and themost advanced candidate is the pre-erythrocytic vaccine RTS,S which is inphase-III clinical trials.
- RTS,S/ASO1 is the first malaria vaccine to have completed pivotal Phase 3 testing and obtained a positive scientific opinion by a stringent medicines regulatory authority.
- Collaborators of RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership showed that RTS,S/AS01 prevented a substantial number of cases of clinical malaria over a 3–4-year period in young infants and children when administered with or without a booster dose. Efficacy was enhanced by the administration of a booster dose in both age categories. Thus, the vaccine has the potential to make a substantial contribution to malaria control when used in combination with other effective control measures, especially in areas of high transmission.
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