What is Malaria?

“Malaria is an infectious disease that is caused by mosquito-borne plasmodium parasite which infects the red blood cells. It’s one of the deadliest diseases in India. There’s no vaccine for malaria yet and immunity occurs naturally through repeated infection. Common symptoms are fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, body ache, headache, cough and diarrhoea. If untreated, it can lead to complications like jaundice, dehydration, anaemia, brain malaria, liver failure and kidney failure. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly – anyone with decreased immunity is at a greater risk.”

How Malaria affects the body?

“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. 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.”

“Malaria parasites have spent centuries adapting to life in the human body, and as a result have grown cagey. Unlike human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, which both infects and is transmitted by human beings, malaria parasites keep their delivery system separate from their food supply — they do not shoot the messenger. The parasites are transmitted to human beings through the saliva of the female mosquito, which is so efficient at this task that it is sometimes described as a flying syringe. Once injected, the parasites quickly retreat to the liver, where they mature and multiply. It is not until they re-emerge in the bloodstream and invade the blood cells that symptoms appear. By this time the parasites have reproduced thousands of times. They thrash about, popping blood cells, clogging blood vessels, debilitating their host, and in some cases killing within hours.

Malaria in India

“Malaria imposes great socio-economic burden on humanity, and with six other diseases (diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, measles, hepatitis B, and pneumonia), accounts for 85% of global infectious disease burden. Malaria afflicts ∼90 countries and territories in the tropical and subtropical regions, The World Health Organization estimates 300-500 million malaria cases annually.”

In India Malaria is approximated to infect 9.7 million people a year!  After many efforts over the last 50 years to eradicate this sneaky parasite, it is making a comeback with a vengeance, looking to infect more than 200 million people this year. “Unbridled urbanization, drought, migration of workers, and lax control efforts are all contributing to the resurgence of malaria in India and the problem is expected to exacerbate in the years to come.”

The areas that we serve in India-Jharkhand, Chattisgharg, and Orissa (Odisha) have the highest numbers of reported cases in the country.  In 1995, NJ Varughese learned that over 5,000 people died from malaria and that is what inspired him to begin the Mobile Medical Unit. Traveling throughout rural villages treating the poor villagers and teaching them preventative measure for malaria and other treatable diseases.  




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