Friday, April 13, 2012

Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday

Malaria is the leading cause of death in children under 5 years old in Mozambique. Pregnant women (who, for some reason, lose their acquired immunity to malaria during pregnancy) can be infected with malaria parasites without ever showing symptoms. The malaria parasite hides in the placenta and can cause premature birth, low birthweight, and anemia in the baby. Children under 5 years old are also extremely susceptible to malaria, since they haven’t been able to build up immunity yet, and thus have a higher malaria mortality rate, as compared to the general population (malaria accounts for 42% of deaths in children under 5 years old, and 29% in the general population, which is actually still quite significant).
But the sad part about all of these statistics is that malaria is easily preventable and, when contracted, generally treatable. Malaria can be prevented through use of Long Life Insecticide-treated Nets (LLINs), yet only 7% of pregnant women and children under 5 in Mozambique use one regularly. All pregnant women in Mozambique are recommended to receive Intermittent Preventative Treatment (IPT) during pregnancy to prevent malaria infection in the mother and the fetus, yet only 33% of pregnant women in Mozambique receive the recommended two doses. Rapid diagnosis and treatment of malaria is the best way to prevent death, yet only 4% of children under 5 years old in Mozambique received ACT (malaria drugs) within 24 hours of onset of malaria symptoms.
PCVs in Mozambique and across Africa are working hard to promote use of bed nets, two visits to prenatal clinics to receive IPT, and rapid diagnosis and treatment of malaria—three ways to help children across Africa live to see their 5th birthday.
Every child deserves a 5th birthday, regardless of where they are born.

How will you Stomp Out Malaria in 2012?

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