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      Malaria and urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa

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          Abstract

          There are already 40 cities in Africa with over 1 million inhabitants and the United Nations Environmental Programme estimates that by 2025 over 800 million people will live in urban areas. Recognizing that malaria control can improve the health of the vulnerable and remove a major obstacle to their economic development, the Malaria Knowledge Programme of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Systemwide Initiative on Malaria and Agriculture convened a multi-sectoral technical consultation on urban malaria in Pretoria, South Africa from 2nd to 4th December, 2004. The aim of the meeting was to identify strategies for the assessment and control of urban malaria. This commentary reflects the discussions held during the meeting and aims to inform researchers and policy makers of the potential for containing and reversing the emerging problem of urban malaria.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Malaria misdiagnosis: effects on the poor and vulnerable.

          Effective and affordable treatment is recommended for all cases of malaria within 24 h of the onset of illness. Most cases of "malaria" (ie, fever) are self-diagnosed and most treatments, and deaths, occur at home. The most ethical and cost-effective policy is to ensure that newer drug combinations are only used for true cases of malaria. Although it is cost effective to improve the accuracy of malaria diagnosis, simple, accurate, and inexpensive methods are not widely available, particularly in poor communities where they are most needed. In a recent study in Uganda, Karin Kallander and colleagues emphasise the difficulty in making a presumptive diagnosis of malaria, and highlight the urgent need for improved diagnostic tools that can be used at community and primary-care level, especially in poorer populations (Acta Trop 2004; 90: 211-14). WHERE NEXT? Health systems need strengthening at referral and community level, so that rapid accurate diagnosis and effective treatment is available for those who are least able to withstand the consequences of illness. Indirect evidence strongly suggests that misdiagnosis of malaria contributes to a vicious cycle of increasing ill-health and deepening poverty. Much better direct evidence is needed about why and how misdiagnosis affects the poor and vulnerable.
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            Malaria transmission in urban sub-Saharan Africa.

            The rapid increase in the world's urban population has major implications for the epidemiology of malaria. A review of malaria transmission in sub-Saharan African cities shows the strong likelihood of transmission occurring within these sprawling cities, whatever the size or characteristics of their bioecologic environment. A meta-analysis of results from studies of malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa shows a loose linear negative relationship between mean annual entomologic inoculation rates (EIR) and the level of urbanicity. Few studies have failed to find entomologic evidence of some transmission. Our results show mean annual EIRs of 7.1 in the city centers, 45.8 in periurban areas, and 167.7 in rural areas. The impact of urbanization in reducing transmission is more marked in areas where the mean rainfall is low and seasonal. Considerable variation in the level of transmission exists among cities and within different districts in the same city. This article presents evidence from past literature to build a conceptual framework to begin to explain this heterogeneity. The potential for malaria epidemics owing to decreasing levels of natural immunity may be offset by negative impacts of urbanization on the larval ecology of anopheline mosquitoes. Malaria control in urban environments may be simpler as a result of urbanization; however, much of what we know about malaria transmission in rural environments might not hold in the urban context.
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              Treatment seeking for malaria: a review of recent research.

               S C McCombie (1996)
              A review of literature on treatment seeking for malaria was undertaken to identify patterns of care seeking, and to assess what is known about the adequacy of the treatments used. There is considerable variation in treatment seeking patterns, with use of the official sector ranging from 10-99% and self-purchase of drugs ranging from 4-87%. The majority of malaria cases receive some type of treatment, and multiple treatments are common. The response to most episodes begins with self-treatment, and close to half of cases rely exclusively on self-treatment, usually with antimalarials. A little more than half use the official health sector or village health workers at some point, with delays averaging three or more days. Exclusive reliance on traditional methods is extremely rare, although traditional remedies are often combined with modern medicines. Although use of antimalarials is widespread, underdosing is extremely common. Further research is needed to answer the question of what proportion of true malaria cases get appropriate treatment with effective antimalarial drugs, and to identify the best strategies to improve the situation. Interventions for the private and public sector need to be developed and evaluated. More information is needed on the specific drugs used, considering resistance patterns in a particular area. In order to guide future policy development, future studies should define the nature of self-treatment, record multiple treatments and attempt to identify the proportions of all cases who begin treatment with antimalarials at standardized time intervals. Hypothetical questions were found to be of limited usefulness in estimating rates of actual treatments. Whenever possible, studies should focus on actual episodes of illness and consider supplementing retrospective surveys with prospective diary-type methods. In addition, it is important to determine the specificity of local illness terms in identifying true malaria cases and the extent to which local perceptions of severity are consistent with clinical criteria for severity and symptoms of complicated malaria.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Malar J
                Malaria Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                1475-2875
                2005
                18 February 2005
                : 4
                : 12
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, L3 5QA. UK
                [2 ]Swiss Tropical Institute, P.O. Box, 4002 Basel, Switzerland
                [3 ]Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationalestraat 155, B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium
                [4 ]International Water Management Institute Sri Lanka127, Sunil Mawatha, Pelawatte, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka
                [5 ]Institute of Public Health, Department of International Health, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 32200 København, Denmark
                [6 ]International Water Management Institute (West Africa), PMB CT 112, Cantonments, Accra, Ghana
                [7 ]Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP 1386, CP 18524, Dakar, Sénégal
                [8 ]Systemwide Initiative on Malaria and Agriculture, International Water Management Institute, Private Bag X813, Silverton 0127, South Africa
                Article
                1475-2875-4-12
                10.1186/1475-2875-4-12
                552321
                15720713
                9ad468eb-8460-47be-b801-1173ca549c8c
                Copyright © 2005 Donnelly et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Infectious disease & Microbiology

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