Headline Health News

Tips to preventing malaria

Photo: Clip Art

Malaria is a parasitic disease that is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. It is a major public health concern in many parts of the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is responsible for many deaths each year.   

According to the World Health Organization, WHO, Nigeria has the highest burden of malaria in Africa and accounts for approximately 25% of global malaria cases. The disease is responsible for a significant number of deaths, particularly among children under the age of five and pregnant women.  

Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. In Nigeria, the most common form of malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum.  

There are several factors that contribute to the high burden of malaria in Nigeria. These include the country’s tropical climate, which provides a suitable environment for the Anopheles mosquito to thrive, as well as inadequate access to healthcare, poor sanitation, and limited availability and use of insecticide-treated bed nets.  


The symptoms of malaria can vary depending on the species of the parasite involved, the severity of the infection, and the individual’s immune response. However, some of the most common symptoms of the disease include:

High fever which can be intermittent or continuous and can last for several hours.

Chills are another common symptom of malaria, and they often accompany the fever. The chills may be severe and cause shivering or shaking.

Many people with malaria experience headaches, which can vary in intensity.

Muscle pain is another common symptom of malaria, and it can be widespread or localized to specific areas of the body.

Other symptoms are: fatigue, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea as well as anemia; a condition characterized by a low red blood cell count.

In severe cases, malaria can cause a range of serious complications, including organ failure, seizures, and coma. These complications can be life-threatening and will require urgent medical attention.


To reduce the incidence of malaria, there are some strategies that have been effective over the years. 

Experts say the most effective method of preventing malaria is the use of insecticide-treated bed nets. They say it can reduce the risk of infection by up to 50%.

Sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net can greatly reduce the incidence of malaria by preventing mosquito bites while sleeping, that is why State Governments spend millions of naira on the purchase ad distribution of these nets to residents to reduce malaria burden in their states.   

Another preventive measure is by the use of indoor residual sprays such as insecticides and the use of insect repellents on exposed skin and clothing can help prevent mosquito bites.  

There is also the need to eliminating mosquito breeding sites such as stagnant water from containers and cleaning drainages to help reduce mosquito population.  

Treatment of infected individuals: Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of malaria cases can reduce transmission and prevent severe disease and death.  

Communities should be educated about the importance of malaria prevention and control measures to promote behavior change and reduce the incidence of the disease.  

To reduce the countries malaria burden, it is also important to ensure that these preventive measures get to the vulnerable people and those that live in hard to reach areas.

Malaria vaccine

The latest in the fight against malaria is the recent breakthrough in the development of a vaccine for the disease. This has brought renewed hope for the prevention of the disease, although the vaccine is not yet widely available in many countries. It targets the malaria parasite before it enters the human liver where it can quickly multiply.  

A world malaria report indicates that over 1.3 million children have been reached with at least 1 dose of the malaria vaccine in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.   

Also 29 other African countries including Nigeria have expressed interest to adopt the malaria vaccine as part of their national malaria control strategies.   

The federal government on April 17th granted provisional approval for the Malaria Vaccine, R21/Matrix developed by scientists at Oxford University. According to the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, “the vaccine is indicated for prevention of clinical malaria in children from 5 months to 3 years of age”.

In 2021, the WHO recommended the vaccine to prevent malaria among young children living in regions with moderate-to-high falciparum malaria transmission.    

Writing by Annabel Nwachukwu