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'Get filmstars, cricketers to campaign against malaria'

Amid expectations of the world's first malaria vaccine by 2015, a leading British expert Saturday stressed on collective efforts to prevent the disease and hoped Indian pharma companies would come out with an affordable product. He also hoped cricketers and filmstars would join the campaign to prevent malaria.

'The real solution is concerted community effort, and not just public health workers or the doctors or the authority. Everyone joins together...,' said David Warrell, international director at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

He was addressing reporters at the Medicon International 2013, organised by RCP in collaboration with Peerless Hospital and B.K.Roy Foundation here.

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'It could be a cricketer or a Bollywood actress to head up the campaign...provided you get everyone to understand which factors give rise to this disease,' said Warrell, who has worked as a physician, a teacher and researcher in many countries.

According to World health Organisation (WHO), Africa is the most affected with about 90 per cent of deaths due to the mosquito-borne parasitic disease.

In south-east Asia, the second most-affected region in the world, India has the highest number of malaria cases (an estimated 24 million cases per year), followed by Indonesia and Myanmar.

Against the backdrop of having a malaria vaccine, Warrell expressed confidence that Indian drug and vaccine manufacturing companies could come out with an affordable vaccine.

'There are two aspects, there is scientific research and the manufacturing. Indian drug manufacturing companies have shown themselves to be very good at manufacturing drugs and vaccines. It is well able to implement all these things, but first they have got to come up with an effective formula, adopt that and produce it at a certainly much lower cost,' he explained.

What is malaria?

Malaria is an infectious disease that is caused by plasmodium parasite which infects the red blood cells and is characterized by fever, body ache, chills and sweating. Similar disease has also been described in the holy Vedas. It derives its name from mal aria which means 'bad air' in Italian. Of the four species that cause malaria (plasmodium vivax, plasmodium falciparum, plasmodium ovale, plasmodium malariae) plasmodium falciparum is the most serious and can cause serious complications. An individual can be infected with two species at the same time.

How does one get malaria?

The life cycle of malaria is complicated and it involves two hosts- the human being and the mosquito. Once bitten by a female anopheles mosquito, the malarial parasite enters the blood stream. It travels all through his blood stream to reach the liver. In the liver the parasite matures and multiplies. Some of the parasites stay there whereas the other parasites move out from the liver attacking red blood cells. The parasite then multiplies in the red blood cells. In the next 48-72 hours, more parasites are released into the blood. This is the reason why the chills of malaria are generally seen after 48 to 72 hours corresponding to the release of the malarial parasite in the blood.

What are the symptoms of malaria?

After been bitten by an infected mosquito, the disease takes around 14 days to manifest. Common symptoms are fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, body ache, headache, cough and diarrhoea. The cycle of fever and chills usually repeats after 48 hours (this corresponds to the release of parasite from the blood cell). After a few cycles of fever the person also develops anaemia due to breakdown of red blood cells. The spleen which is an organ situated beneath the rib cage on the left side enlarges and is felt in the stomach. Read more

With inputs from IANS

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