Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Malaria - A Global Preventable Diesase

Malaria - A Global Issue

To most people in the so called developed world Malaria is an inconvenience. The only time you cross its path is when you are off on holiday to some far off place that has a list of things you need vaccinations for. You pop down to the doctors have your jabs, get your passport, ticket and money and jet off for that two week holiday that you have been looking forward to all year. And that's it. To half the world Malaria is something that you cross off the list along side getting sun screen, swimwear and sunglasses, its part of the holiday check list. But for the other half of the world its something deadly.

Malaria is an infections disease that despite being preventable and treatable threatens the lives of 3 billion people around the world. Every Year malaria kills 660,000 people the majority of them in Sub-Sarahan Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria. This not only destroys families and communities but has a devastating affect on the local and regional economies. The disease is not only a result but also a cause of poverty in these regions, a double blow. Kids get sick, miss school, don't get educated and loose the chance of a future.

Malaria can easily be prevented, diagnosed and treated, it has already been eradicated from many parts of the world yet still infects over 200 million people each year. Its estimated US$5.1 billion is needed every year between 2011 and 2020 to achieve complete access to interventions. At present funding is half of what is needed

Sources: WHO, World Malaria Report 2012

The Mosquito

Malaria is transmitted through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito, which usually feeds between sunset and sunrise. The Anopheles itself becomes infected by taking in parasites after feeding on infected human blood. The parasites then develop inside the mosquito and about a week later can be transferred to a new host when the mosquito feeds again.

The Parasite

Plasmodium is the malaria parasite that infects human cells. P. falciparum is the strain that causes the most severe, life threatening malaria cases. It resides in the liver for between two weeks and several months before multiplying within the red blood cells and causing the first symptoms of malaria.

Symptoms symptoms include severe anaemia, fever and convulsions, problems with breathing, cerebral malaria, extreme weakness, hypoglycaemia, circulatory collapse, oedema, septicaemia, and occasionally kidney failure and coma. Even of those who have made it to hospital, around one fifth of patients die of severe malaria.

Young children are much more vulnerable to all forms of malaria. In infants this is because their immune systems are not yet fully developed, while in under fives they have not yet developed effective resistance to the disease.

Prevention - Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets

The anopheles mosquito is active between dusk and dawn, therefore sleeping under an insect net provides an effective barrier. Mosquito nets treated with insecticides can stop 50 % of malaria cases. Not only can the nexts protect families from the bites of mosquitoes it also reduced the overall number by killing those that come into contact with the nets. Long lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLNS) are mosquito nets with insecticide woven into the material of the net iteself. LLN can be used for 3 years without needing re-treatment, providing a cost effective and long lasting protection.

The Viz

I made the viz below to try to put some of the numbers into context and show the true scale of the problem and how a simple cheap but effective solution can help. All the numbers came from the latest WHO global report on Malaria. I wanted to make the problem of malaria more relevant to the reader so used comparisons with states, cities, school buses. By doing this i hope that it brings home the huge numbers of people that suffer from something that we have the tools to defeat.

Matt Francis

Author & Editor

Tableau Zen Master, Social Ambassador, Wrangler of Data, Vizzer of Data


  1. Great Viz! The % of deaths calculation is not working. I fixed it here http://t.cn/RP9Jb6q … wonder how to add sound cloud cookie

  2. Thanks for sharing this really nice and helpful article,
    mosquito barrier


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