Malaria affects millions of people worldwide and kills large numbers of children.
Older children can promote the use of bed nets and help prevent mosquitoes from breeding and biting. Children can help to care for young children with fever and during recovery by helping them eat good food, drink and catch-up on school work.
Scroll down to read our Top Ten Malaria Messages for children to learn and share, plus ideas on what children can do to understand, find out more, take action and reflect on the Malaria Topic.
Download our PDF to your copy of all the ten Malaria messages and how to get children started with learning and sharing.
Malaria is a disease spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Malaria is spread by the bite of an Anopheles mosquito. The mosquito transfers Plasmodium (the name of the malaria parasite) from person to person. People with malaria get very sick with high fevers, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, chills and flu-like illness.
Malaria is dangerous. It causes fever and can kill, especially children & pregnant women.
Malaria is a killer disease. Malaria makes people weak and unable to work or study properly. It affects people in many countries. In children, malaria can get worse very quickly leading to coma and even death. Children under 5 years old and pregnant women are the two groups most at risk from malaria and need to sleep under nets. Babies born to women who have had malaria in their pregnancy can be small and weak when they are born. Also there is more risk that women who are pregnant and get malaria will have a miscarriage and get anaemia. Children under 5 years are more likely to get malaria and to get very ill. In areas with malaria, pregnant women need take anti-malaria medicine during their pregnancy as shown by a health worker.
Prevent malaria by sleeping under insecticide treated bed nets that kill mosquitoes & stop them biting.
Malaria is hard to prevent as mosquitoes bite any time between dusk and dawn. Mosquitoes go on biting until it is light. The best way to prevent mosquitoes from biting at night is by sleeping under special long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs). These nets are often available from health centres as part of special government malaria control programmes. The LLINs must be put over the bed before dark, tucked in well under the mattress so mosquitoes cannot get in. LLINs last for up to 3 years and then they need to be replaced. LLIN’s must be kept in good repair by sewing up any holes or tears. Mosquitoes may bite through the net if you sleep close to the net. LLINs are the best defence against malaria. They help keep mosquitoes away and can kill them. Even if there are holes in the nets, mosquitoes may be killed as they try to find and get through the holes. LLINs should be used all the year round and not just in the rainy season.
Malaria mosquitoes often bite between sunset & sunrise.
In the evening, at night, and until the first light of day, as long as the mosquitoes are active, people need to wear clothes that cover the arms and legs to protect them from mosquito bites. In places where there are no nets or screens, a blanket or thick cloth can help protect the body. Mosquitoes can also be driven away by putting a repellent on skin or clothes (especially around the ankles), by using mosquito coils, or even smoke from grass or leaves. If possible, the windows, doors and other openings in a house should be screened, so that mosquitoes can’t get into the house. The best protection is an insecticide treated net.
When children get malaria they may grow and develop more slowly.
A child who has malaria is not growing or developing well. The more times the child has malaria the more their growth and development is interrupted. They can fall behind at school and need the adults around them to help and support them to catch up. A child with fever caused by malaria needs to be kept cool but not cold. Sometimes the child will be shivering. But putting too many clothes or blankets on a child with a high fever is dangerous. High fever can lead to convulsions, which can lead to disabilities. Malaria is treated with medicines called artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). Other medicines are given to reduce fever such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (but not aspirin). When children sweat, they lose liquid. They should be given plenty to drink. As soon as they can eat again, they should be given good food to build up their strength. For very young children, frequent breastfeeding prevents dehydration and helps the child fight infections, including malaria. Children who are breastfeeding and suffering from malaria should be breastfed as often as possible.
Sit with a child who has fever, sponge their body with cool water and make sure they do become too hot. We can make sure they drink small sips of clean, safe water – lots of times. Encourage a child who is recovering to eat more and rest more to build up their strength. Do chores to help mothers rest and have time to breastfeed a baby with malaria.
There are three types of insecticide spraying to kill malaria mosquitoes: in houses, in the air & onto water.
In many countries there are programmes to reduce the lifespan of the female Anopheles mosquito with the use of insecticide spraying. The first type involves spraying the internal surfaces in a house to kill adult mosquitoes. The second is ‘space spraying’ where a ‘fog’ of insecticide is sprayed into the air using specialist equipment. It is a short-term solution and used sometimes as a control measure during malaria epidemics. Thirdly is the chemical spraying of water sources to kill mosquito larvae to prevent or reduce mosquito-breeding sites.
Find out if and when spraying teams come to our communities and why they come at this time. What type of spraying is used and why? Once you know, help explain to others what spraying teams are doing and why and how it prevents malaria.
The signs for malaria are high fever, headaches, muscle & stomach aches & chills. Rapid tests and treatment will save lives.
If anyone in the family has a fever, or if young children refuse to eat or have vomiting, diarrhoea, drowsiness or fits, this might be malaria. Children with malaria feel very ill. A child with a fever needs to be tested as soon as possible and get treatment from a trained health worker. If a child with a malarial fever is not treated within a day, she or he might die. Older children can watch for the signs of malaria and tell adults when the young ones need to be taken to a health worker.
Malaria can be prevented & treated with medicine as directed by a health worker.
Health workers can conduct a test for malaria. There are two tests:
- a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) where a small drop of blood is taken and then put in a cartridge where the drop leads to a sign in a small window to give a positive or negative result for malaria and
- when a drop of blood is taken and looked at through a microscope. RDT is a more reliable test. In both tests, if there are Plasmodium parasites in the blood, the health worker can see them.
The health worker will provide medicine in tablets or syrup. The dose depends on the age and size of the patient. After the first doses the patient may feel better but all the parasites are not yet killed. The patient MUST take ALL the medicine as described by the worker. If the patient does not recover they must return to the clinic.
Malaria lives in an infected person’s blood and can cause anaemia that makes us tired and weak.
When the female Anopheles mosquito bites a person, the malaria germ enters the person’s blood. It travels to the liver and then back into the blood. This takes about 12 days. Then the person begins to feel unwell and gets fever, often with sweating, shivering, headache and diarrhoea. This fever passes, but keeps coming back, and may get worse unless it is treated with the correct medicine. Malaria is linked to anaemia. People with anaemia do not have enough red blood cells. The signs and symptoms of anaemia include: feeling tired, lacking energy to work, study or play; the tongue and inside the lips looks pale, the person feels dizzy or has headaches, they lose appetite have stomach pain and sometimes can feel breathless or have a fast heartbeat, even with light work. When children have anaemia they do not develop well and it is hard for them to learn at school.
Anti-malaria pills can prevent or reduce malaria and anaemia in places and at times when there is lots of malaria in a community.
There are different ways that anti-malaria pills are used to prevent and reduce malaria and new discoveries are being made all the time. Most deaths from malaria in children happen during the rainy season. Anti-malaria pills can be given to children under 5, every month and for a short time to prevent or reduce malaria and its effects. This is called intermittent preventative treatment (IPT).
In some schools it has been found that giving all the children in the school anti malaria pills once every school term (also IPT) had an effect on reducing malaria.
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