(In conclusion to an earlier question regarding the seriousness of the disease and the way it is likely to affect population vigour if not controlled) – What can the community, the government, individuals (school children, parent, and teachers) do to improve the situation?
The best way to improve the impact that malaria has upon populations afflicted by malaria is to prevent the disease in the first place.
At a community level, this can be done through the use of long-lasting insecticide treated bednets, which have been shown to be extremely effective in preventing exposure to malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The nets are furthermore cheap and easy to use; the problem is distributing them, and ensuring that the highest-risk groups of people (pregnant women and children under 5 years old) have priority access to the bednets.
In some places, bednets are given out for free at antenatal clinics to target pregnant women; in other places, bednets have been sold at subsidised prices as a way of maintaining the sustainability of the delivery program.
For more information about bednet distribution and the debate surrounding whether they should be free or paid for, please see the post “Malaria – Free Bednets?”
These high risk groups may also benefit from intermittent preventive therapy (IPT) whereby individuals are given treatment for malaria at set intervals, to reduce the risk of suffering from a full-on malaria infection. More information on IPT can be seen in the comments to the question “Reduce risk of P. falciparum.”
If bednet coverage is not thorough an thus prevention not complete, the next stage in reducing the burden of the disease on endemic communities is through accurate, effective diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment. This requires a functional and efficient health services system as well as a well developed transportation network, to ensure that people are encouraged to seek assistance at a clinic or hospital if they develop malaria symptoms, and that they can easily and quickly reach these facilities.
Advanced health systems and transportation networks are the goal of many developing countries, and many regions in the world have made huge amounts of progress in these areas recently. However, momentum must be maintained, and governments throughout the regions of the world where malaria continues to be a huge public health burden need to continue their efforts to strengthen the availability of malaria diagnostics and treatment, in order to remove malaria as an obstacle to people’s well-being and development.