The prompt was: Malaria is a disease that is both curable and preventable. But a child dies of malaria every 10 seconds; more than one million people die of malaria every year. Why do you think this is? This is our discussion point for Monday. Be prepared to contribute to the discussion. Type and double space your response to this prompt for Monday. Do a little research and have some talking points and sources.
Malaria is an infectious disease transmitted by plasmodium-carrying mosquitoes through bites in the human skin ("Malaria"). It is commonly believed to have killed more US soldiers during World War II and Vietnam than combat (Gillert). Unfortunately, malaria continues to take the lives of many around the world in areas of high poverty rates and population density:
First, the parasite infects the liver of a person and following that, red blood cells in the blood stream. Once the affected cells in the blood stream burst, victims show symptoms of muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, fevers, headaches, sweating, and confusion. Advanced states of malaria also involve seizures, kidney failure, and jaundice. Jaundice also appears in other cases of impaired liver function such as cirrhosis, thalassemia and pancreatic cancer ("Jaundice- Causes"). Groups most affected by malaria include pregnant women, small children, and those with HIV/AIDS.
Of course, eradication of malaria will only occur with increased standards of living and education as well as engineering of mosquitos so that they do not develop to sexual maturity; however, I believe that relief aviation can have a significant short term impact. Malaria comes into conversation somewhat frequently for me, as it is the disease I mention specifically when I explain the benefits of relief aviation. There are four reasons that I initially think of which explain why malaria is as destructive as it is; in turn, four reasons that aviation relief is effective in the short term.
First, the geographic qualities of areas highly afflicted with malaria do not foster easy access to medicinal clinics or hospitals. Many of these regions are either in the desert or dense forest. Along with making travel difficult, these both encourage mosquitos: in the desert, mosquitos primarily use animals (including people!) as a breeding place; in a forest, large amounts of precipitation with poor quality soil leads to stagnant water, also a breeding place. Meanwhile, it is easy to imagine that a woman who is 8 months pregnant in an undeveloped African country and begins to experience delirium and seizures might have great difficulty getting to a doctor. In the span of the several days that walking to a clinic might take, her health could easily take a severe downturn as her hemoglobin declines and symptoms intensify. Even worse, if it is rainy season, it could be a week or longer until a river is safely crossed. Aviation can minimize several days of walking to a flight of a few minutes and navigate dense forest even when roads are impassible.
Secondly, a nutritious diet is thought to be one of the biggest factors in host resistance and recovery (Lucy Bromley). Small children born with a low birth weight have a very low survival rate. This is thought to be in part because not only did they not develop healthy fat levels before birth but their mothers are not able to provide essential nutrients as the mothers themselves lack them as well. Protein, Vitamin A, and zinc are three especially important components to diet: Without energy from proteins, hosts deteriorate rapidly; pregnant women and malnutritional children are specifically at risk for vitamin A and zinc deficiencies prevent the immune system from functioning properly. Similarly, other members of the population who also are lacking essential proteins, minerals, and vitamins will also have a harder time fighting off malaria. Aviation allows closer monitoring of an area’s nutritional limitations and rapid food distribution as needed.
Third, poor sanitation systems and a lack of clean water encourage mosquito populations. In many developing areas, the sewage systems are not municipal and even if there is a water treatment program, rapidly growing populations can quickly cause the system to work inefficiently or collapse. Resulting stagnant pools of waste provide a breeding ground and often feed directly into local tributaries. Suddenly, Indian women are retrieving foul water to cook, clean, and drink from. With a global perspective, all water eventually feeds into an ocean; we don’t really want malaria-carrying mosquitos hanging out there either. In response to this factor, aviation is useful to transport items such as clean water and the supplies to make a well. Sustainable city planning and controlled population growth are also essential.
Fourth, general awareness can occur much more rapidly with aviation. Awareness helps people detect symptoms and create habits which minimize other risk factors. Although literacy rates can take decades to increase to an acceptable level, simply sending doctors to remote areas with items like mosquito nets and medication can make a difference. UNICEF reports that “In the last 15 years, the number of children under 5 sleeping beneath [mosquito] nets in sub-Saharan Africa has soared to 68% from less than 2%” and that introducing mosquito nets reduces cases by about 20% (“Preventing Malaria“). Similarly, in areas where the sanitation systems are inadequate, sharing healthy habits is quite valuable. These habits would include information on the proper ways to collection, store, treat and dispose of water for human and environmental safety, hygiene, hazards of water pools on industrial sites, and the methods which malaria and other diseases spread between people. Aviation is not as important to this factor, other than transporting supplies to remote areas.
http://www.unicefusa.org/mission/survival/malaria. Accessed 6 Jan. 2017.