Global Health Problem Project: Malaria Epidemic in Africa

Epidemic malaria causes between 12-15% of estimated annual worldwide malaria deaths including up to more than a half of the estimated malaria mortality for persons aged less than 15 years, according to (Thomas et al). Forty-five countries within WHO African region were among the 109 countries that were endemic for Malaria in 2008. Among the 3.3 billion people at risk in 2006, there was an estimate of 247 million malaria cases, responsible for about a million deaths mostly those of children below 5 years. In all the countries surveyed in the year 2006, access to treatment especially the artemisinic-based combination therapy (ACT) was inadequate.

Out of 45 countries, which are with relatively small populations, at least 7 according to WHO 2008 report had good surveillance and high intervention coverage utilized and reduction in malaria cases and deaths by 50 % or more realized between 2000-2006 or 2007.

Global Health Problems are issues, problems, and concerns in health and related to health, that go beyond the national boundaries which may be influenced by existing experiences and circumstances in other countries and are best addressed through cooperative solutions and actions (Supercourse). A global health problem project refers to a project for identifying, researching, and analysis of the issues surrounding global health.

Such a project would entail the determination of the factors influencing virulence, trends in the spread of certain illnesses, risk factors, the occurrence of certain trends in illnesses, best procedures of treatments, preventive means, and the affected populations among other issues. A global health project may further try to offer solutions to the existing scenario or condition in the local setting while trying to maintain a global perspective through a set of measurable goals and targets as displayed by WHO (WHO, 2008).

A global perspective concerning issues of health is important because although currently there is a trend for the advancement of technological innovations, better treatment methods and potential for most of the illnesses, preventable and avoidable diseases, and illnesses continue to undermine health on a large scale (United Nations Development Programme, 2003; WHO, 2001; cited in Flanagin & Winker) and claim lives.

This trend is evident in economically-poor countries where only a small fraction of funds dedicated to research for their own benefits may be availed. In addition, many locals in developing and underdeveloped countries continue to assess poor medical attention and nutrition because of poverty. Global health problems influence the whole world in terms of the economy. For example, malaria accounts for at least $ 12 billion in economic losses each year and a reduction in the annual economic growth of about 1.3%. Some of these countries continue to suffer health problems because of inadequately investing in poor health structures and technology for example.

Thus global health problem is influenced by disparities in economic empowerment between nations among other factors like geographical location. Grover et al have indicated that people in semi-arid and desert –fringes could be more disadvantaged because rainfall is one of the greatest influencing conditions of variability in transmission of malaria in these regions. After the rains, malaria-causing mosquitoes increase in populations in these regions and this leads to explosive epidemics in addition to increased malaria infections. The influence of geographical location may further be explained by the fact that temperature is an important determiner in the development of malaria parasites.

Although WHO set a target of 80% for coverage of all interventions in Africa for malaria in 2006, data from the national malaria control program (NMCPs) showed lesser percentages of achievement in most countries. Only 26% of people in 37 countries were able to be protected sufficiently by a supply of insecticide-treatment nets (ITN) to the mentioned programs. In 18 countries, only 27% of pregnant women and 23% of children slept under an ITN, anti-malarial drugs were used in treating 38% of children with fever but only 3% with ACT and 18% of women used IPT in pregnancy. Malaria causes high mortality and morbidity rates in children.

The WHO report indicates that only five countries reported sufficient coverage of IRS to at least 70% of people at risk of malaria. Among the population that continues to be at risk to malaria, intervention include the poor communities which have poor access to nutrition, good houses at locations that render them protective, education on malaria causes and treatment among other related issues necessary for them to make important steps, treatment measures and assess to preventive techniques. In addition, because programs need to be focused at times on the localities, other factors that may hinder their efforts include unfavorable environmental conditions, infrastructure, developmental policies of the local and national government.

Health problems have led to reduced access to opportunities like developing technology in some countries and they must be solved through global healthy strategies that seek to define measure and advance health for all, so as to ensure not only equality in health but also equality in assessing other resources within the local society (Freidman, 2000).

Preventive and curative measures have been hampered by difficulties and problems associated with accurately predicting of conditions in some parts like in the highland places and this has influenced negatively the making of decisions required for taking or applying necessary techniques of prevention such as indoor spraying (Abeku, 2007). Poor health systems coupled with inaccessibility to anti-malarial drugs as a result of insecurity continue to affect some African countries at wars within themselves. The insecurity has hampered penetration of the programs to the local communities as well as their effectiveness.

In order to achieve global health demand targets, there is necessity to invest widely in sound scientific research to determine effective methods and procedures that will help in dissemination of treatment and prevention (Freidman, 2000). Plans to target certain health conditions on a global scale have historically shown success by achieving certain goals, although these plans are largely dismissed as overambitious. A number of these include elimination of polio in more than 175 countries and guinea worm diseases in all countries except 14 of them, eradication of small pox in 1977, and reduction of child diarrhea deaths by half in 1990s among other achievements (Flanagin, & Winker, 2003).

Since there have been challenges to achieving targets like eradication of malaria in Africa, there is necessity to put measures to improve and increase programs based in local areas for eliminating malaria, improve comparable reporting and tracking of diseases and deaths across countries, putting in place mechanisms for valid reporting and increased funding for program among other solutions (Flanagin, & Winker, 2003). These resolutions need be aligned with countries’ objectives and policy in fighting malaria.

References

Abeku, T. ( 2007). Response to malaria in Africa: emergent infectious disease perspective. Centers for Disease Control. Web.

Grover-Kopec, E., Kawano, M., Klaver, R., W., Blumenthal, B., Ceccato, P., Connor, S., J. (2005). An online operational rainfall-monitoring resource for epidemic malaria early warning systems in Africa. Malaria Journal. 4:6. Web.

Flanagin Annette, & Margaret Winker. Global health-Targeting Problems and Achieving Solutions. 2003. JAMA. Vol.290.no.10. Web.

Freidman TL. (2000). The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. New York, NY: Farrar Straus & Giroux.

Malaria. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Web.

Supercourse. Global Health: Global Health Network. Web.

Thomas, M., C. Mason, S., J. Phindela, P., Connor, S., J. (2005). Use of rainfall and sea surface temperature monitoring for malaria early warning in Botswana. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 73(1), 2005, pp. 214-221. Web.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2003: Millennium Development Goals: A Compact Among Nations to End Poverty. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2003. Web.

WHO. World Malaria Report 2008. Summary and Key Points. Web.

World Malaria Report. (2008). World Health Organization. Web.

World Health Organization. Commission on Macroeconomics and Health. Macroeconomics and Health: Investing in Health for Economic Development. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. Web.