It’s summer time in Africa. As we head into the holidays over December and January, the rainy season rears its stormy head ready to bring new life to the dry African savannah. The flourishing cycle of life brings with it many blessings, but on the flip side, it brings a curse in the form of millions upon millions of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Sherwin Charles, co-founder of Goodbye Malaria says, “If you’re out and about across the African continent during the rainy season you need to be aware that mosquitoes and rain are the best of friends.”
Why is rain a major contributor to the spread of malaria? As the rains fall, millions of water pools are formed. And where do mosquitoes like to breed? In small pools of water, of course. The more rain, the more pools, the more breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.
“Whether it is potholes, old tyres, a leaf, or a plastic cup left outside, a clutch of mosquito eggs does not require much to hatch, grow and subsequently terrorise the neighbourhood. In fact, mosquito larvae can survive just fine in 1cm of stagnant water,” says Charles.
If you’re in Africa, you must remember another unfortunate fact that ensures the spread of malaria. With higher temperatures, mosquitoes can mature faster and have more time to spread the disease. The malarial parasite also matures more quickly at warmer temperatures – making certain parts of Africa a prime spot for malaria to set up shop.
“If you are travelling to areas like Mozambique, or the Kruger National Park in South Africa this festive season, you need to be prepared,” says Charles. “But that should not deter you from exploring this beautiful continent. There are plenty of ways to defend yourself against mosquitoes.”
From dusk till dawn, when it comes to protection from mosquitoes, here are your options:
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin
- Close windows and doors at night unless they are screened
- Spray an aerosol insecticide inside the sleeping area
- Burn mosquito coils and mosquito mats in sleeping areas
- Sleep under a mosquito-proof bed-net
- Wear long-sleeved clothing, trousers and socks if outdoors during this time
- In high-risk areas, the use of anti-malaria drugs is recommended from October to May.
- Always consult with your local GP when travelling to a malaria area
Goodbye Malaria is tackling the scourge in southern Africa collaborating with world-class partners, including the Global Fund, private organisations, and the governments of Mozambique, South Africa and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) in an effort to eradicate this dreaded disease.
“Elimination is achievable,” says Charles. “Through vector control such as indoor residual spraying programmes on the ground, we are getting closer and closer to finally saying ‘goodbye malaria’.”
Goodbye Malaria does most of its work in Mozambique, which is a high transmission country being in top five malaria highest-burden countries. Malaria in Mozambique affects low-transmission countries, South Africa and Eswatini, so it only makes sense to start where solutions are needed most.