|Fact sheet No 178: Reducing Mortality from Major Killers of Children - Revised September 1998 (WHO, 1998, 7 p.)|
Approximately 700 000 children die of malaria each year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Young children are particularly vulnerable because they have not developed the partial immunity that results from surviving repeated infections.
Malaria is a widespread tropical disease caused by a parasite transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. It has proved difficult to control because mosquitoes have become resistant to insecticides used against them and because the parasite has developed resistance in some areas to the cheap and effective drugs that used to provide good protection. However, alternative drug therapies have been developed for use in areas of resistance.
IMCI reduces the death toll from malaria by:
· Encouraging parents to seek prompt care;
· Accurate assessment of the condition of the whole child;
· Prompt treatment with appropriate anti-malarial drugs;
· Recognition and treatment of other co-existin conditions, such as malnutrition and anaemia;
· Prevention by using mosquito-proof bednets.
Children with malaria can in most cases be quickly and effectively treated with a course of inexpensive oral tablets. But because fever may be the only sign of malaria, it may be difficult to distinguish it from other potentially life-threatening conditions. IMCI enables health workers to make more accurate assessments of children with fever, providing them with the treatment they need and avoiding excessive use of drugs.