Malaria still biggest killer of children in Africa

Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria and by 2006 more than 247million cases of malaria were reported, resulting in a million deaths of mostly African children.

Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria and by 2006 more than 247million cases of malaria were reported, resulting in a million deaths of mostly African children.

It remains one of the world's greatest child killers and accounts for close to 40percent of public health funding.

Long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets and artemisinin-based combination therapy has been the main method used to reduce malaria. But, the surfacing of vectors resistant to insecticides used in bednets might compromise the efforts to eradicate the disease.

The two types of malaria control investigated in the study were house screening - either full screening of windows, doors and closing eaves and other holes where mosquitoes could enter or screened ceilings only.

Researchers assessed whether either method could prevent the entry of mosquitoes to homes leading to the reduction of anaemia- related malaria among children in Farafenni town in Gambia.

The UK Medical Research Council-funded study surveyed 462 households. Up to 188 homes were fully screened, 178 had screened ceilings while 96 had no screening. A trap was used to capture mosquitoes that had entered the homes.

Houses that received full screening experienced a 59percent reduction in mosquitoes, while those with screened ceilings showed a decrease of 49percent.

Children from both the partly screened and fully screened homes were half as likely to have malaria-related anaemia in comparison with those from unscreened homes.

Laurence Slutsker and John Gimnig of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention welcomed the results but warned that further research was needed to determine whether the strategy could be incorporated with other prevention methods.

"House screening to prevent malaria historically might have contributed more to malaria control and elimination than previously thought. But further research is needed to determine when and how this strategy should be integrated with other vector control interventions such as long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets to provide added (or synergistic) benefits," they said. -Health-e News

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