Most people know about malaria but have you heard of cerebral malaria?
First, let us discuss Malaria. Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The parasite enters the red blood cells and continues to multiply, eventually causing the red blood cells to rupture and release more parasites into the bloodstream. This infection cycle can lead to symptoms such as fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. In some cases, however, the parasite can also infect the brain, causing cerebral malaria. This is usually a result of severe malaria.
Now, let us talk about the prevalence of cerebral malaria in Nigeria.
Malaria was estimated to have affected 247 million people worldwide in 2021, with Nigeria contributing 27 percent (one out of every four people having malaria). This is partly because many parts of the country are located in regions with high transmission of the malaria parasite, and many people in Nigeria do not have access to effective malaria prevention and treatment.
So, how can we prevent cerebral malaria?
One of the most effective ways to prevent malaria is to use insecticide-treated bed nets, which can reduce the risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Additionally, taking antimalarial medication before and during travel to high-risk areas can help prevent infection. It is also important to practice good hygiene and environmental management, such as emptying standing water where mosquitoes breed and using screens on windows and doors.
Why are tests necessary?
One harmful thing we practice is negligence. Many times, we experience symptoms of malaria but pay little or no attention to it and just assume it’s fever. Going for tests anytime you feel sick ensures you get a proper diagnosis and prescription.
Let us do our part to reduce the risk of malaria. Remember, prevention is better than cure.