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Malaria in Women and Children in Sub-Saharan Africa Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 17th, 2019


Globally, the complexity of diseases and associated treatment costs forms one of the greatest impediments to developments. This is because, governments are spending millions of dollars in trying to improve the health conditions of their citizens, a factor that takes many funds that could be helpful in other development sectors such as industrialization. For example, consider the recent outbreak of swine flu.

To ensure the well-being of their citizens, most affected nations had to (and some are still spending) millions of dollars; probably funds that nations never meant to spend on their health sectors. Although the case is common in all nations, that is, spending of many funds on healthcare, developing nations are the ones that are feeling the greatest pinch from such pandemics.

This is because, most of the developing nations adopt health policies that lay little emphasis on the necessity of preventive treatment due to scarcity of funds or lack of supportive technologies for early detection of infections.

Although one can argue that, economic problems are major cause of such problems, as Molnar (pp. 6-14) argues, to some extent the many differences that exist among societies can be contributing factors to problems many developing countries face, more so when it comes to manifestations of disease and genetic make-ups as concerns resistance to diseases.

For instance, the major reason why Africa is one of the continents affected by diseases, is due to segregations; racially, that have existed since time memorial. It is important to mote that, this to larger extent had nothing to do with the concept of diseases among developing countries because; genetic make-ups are products of biological processes, whereas racial segregation is a human factor.

Loring (pp. 12-36) supports this fact; racial differentiation is a human created thing, although evolution theories contradict this by arguing that, the whole concept lacks the required biological prove, hence a human perception. Considering this, Africa is one of the most affected areas by infectious diseases that have caused numerous deaths, which translates into many social and economic problems.

Common diseases that have affected the African continent include malaria, HIV and AIDS, diseases resulting due to malnutrition, and anemia. Of all these, malaria is the most prevalent, whereby women; mostly pregnant women, and young children are the ones who have felt the greatest impact of the pandemic.

Although many African governments have put in place many measures to deal with the malaria condition, still the diseases is a threat due to many deaths that result either from late detection of the disease, or lack of medication.

It is important to note here that, although the whole of Africa has felt the impact of the pandemic, sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected; something that results either due to ignorance or due to lack of proper medical care (Nosotro Para. 1-3). This paper will discuss concepts of malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa in children and women, and the resulting impacts it has on communities.

Background Information

Although malaria is a common pandemic globally, the disease is more prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa; a condition that results primarily due to the economic status of most Sub-Saharan African countries.

In many nations, the disease is fatal because it shares signs with other common ailments, something that makes its early detection hard hence, translating to many deaths and associated complications for example madness (caused by cerebral malaria; although not very common).

Globally, malaria solely causes more than two and half million deaths annually, majority of which are young infants and children of age below ten years.

The condition is more adverse in sub-Saharan Africa in that, research studies have shown that, in Africa only, in a time span of one hour two children are succumbing to malaria, something that translates to approximately 1 million deaths annually in continentally.

In addition, hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa handle almost a half a million malaria infection cases monthly, whereby some recover from the disease, whereas others will succumb to death depending on the condition of the disease in one. Children death numbers as a result of malaria and its associated complications approximately total to a figure ranging from 75, 000 to 200, 000 annually in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is important to note here that, malaria is never discriminative that is, women; more so pregnant mothers have not been spared by the disease either. This pandemic causes approximately 10, 000 mother deaths on annual basis (Jhpiego p.1).The highest reported death toll is in rural areas and some urban suburbs, a fact that majority of medical researchers attribute to poor economic conditions of these areas.

In addition, research findings have proved that, in some areas the increased death numbers results due increased ignorance among some native communities, because some still embrace olden ways of dealing with the pandemic.

On the other hand, it is important to note that, another common affected population, where women and young children never lack, is the populations with migratory tendencies. This is because in most cases, these populations move through mosquito-infested areas with little safeguards from mosquito bites. In addition, considering the state of some areas where these populations migrate to, the death toll is high.

Primarily, this is the case in such regions because most of them lack health facilities, or incase such health facilities are available, there is no enough medication to deal with the number of malaria cases that arise. The main reason why most pregnant women and young children succumb to malaria is because; most of them have low immunity levels towards attack from this infection.

In some scenarios, the condition is worse primarily because, depending on the dietary provisions that this pregnant mothers and young children get, the immunity of most of them is at stake hence easily succumb to malaria attacks (Donnelly and Klinkenberg et al. Para. 5-6).

Causes and Treatment of Malaria

The main causative agents of malaria are insects of the plasmodium family, primarily the female anopheles mosquito. In Sub-Saharan Africa there exist more than three species of mosquitoes however, is important to note that, not all of them transmit malaria.

Depending on the incubation period that the parasite takes in an individual, sometimes it is very hard to detect the malaria in early stages, something that can result in many other health complications.

Depending on specific regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, treatment recommendations vary. For example, because most areas of West Africa have forests, the most common type of malaria in most of its regions is the falciparum type. Therefore, the most common type of drug used in this region is mefloquine or Malarone. The case is a little bit different as one enters the desert-covered areas due to seasonal variations.

That is, there are few rainy seasons in desert areas hence, cases of malaria occur only during the rainy season (Marshall P.1). Because of ignorance and lack of know how among many individuals in these marginalized areas, it sometimes becomes hard to tame the disease.

Mothers and young children are the most affected because in most cases, they need specialized medicines, which are rare in these areas or in case they exist, accessing them is a problem.

Effects of Malaria and Social Impacts on Communities

Malaria is one of the diseases that have caused adverse effects to many communities in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because, due the vulnerability of most individuals to malaria infections, most societies are spending millions of funds to tame the disease.

In addition, malaria has many social impacts on communities in that, the numerous deaths resulting from the pandemic has left many children orphans, a factor that has contributed to the increased poverty levels in communities. It is important to note here that, malaria largely has contributed to the increasing number of deaths resulting from HIV and AIDS infection.

This is because malaria is one of the primary opportunistic infections that accelerate the decrease in immunity levels in individuals, hence leading to early deaths of most HIV and AIDS patients (Korenromp, Williams, and Vlas p.1).

This disease is one of the biggest threats to the existence of the human species. This is because; malaria is one of the biggest burdens to humans due to the associated costs that it is causing societies in terms of treatment funds and deaths.

Malaria is associated with much premature mortality, in that it threatens more than thirty five million of sub-Saharan Africa inhabitants. The fact that annually more than seventy five thousand infant deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa supports this, hence showing the magnitude of the disease effects in sub-Saharan Africa.

Malaria is one of the major causes of the alleviated poverty levels in the society. This is because; malaria is one of the major obstacles to economic advancement of a society, translating to poor health conditions.

The social-economic conditions of most countries in sub-Saharan Africa can attest this, primarily because of the alleviated number of deaths that result from malaria and its associated opportunistic infections for example, anemia.

Because of the economic retardation that result from malaria, the living conditions of majority of inhabitants of this region has deteriorated, whereby the most affected are women and children (being the most vulnerable members of the society). Majority of women and children in sub-Saharan Africa depend on their spouses as their main sources of livelihoods.

This in many ways has resulted to the increased poverty levels, a fact that becomes more complicated incase malaria attacks. This is because most of them cannot afford to purchases the required medication, nor maintain the required dietary needs.

On the other hand, because it is the duty of women to perform most home chores, sometimes malaria overburdens them with the duty of taking care of sick malaria patients, whereby in most cases they have little to offer because of their economic conditions (Pearson p.1).

Most cultural orientations of most African societies lay little emphasis on the importance of women in the society. Although in some communities, the situation is changing still some communities cherish the practice, hence marginalizing women when it comes to other societal developments.

Malaria in many ways has been a constraining factor when it comes to women development and active participation in the society as concerns development initiatives. This is due to the fact that, the entire burden of taking care of sick members of the society rests with women.

Hence, malaria being one of the common diseases, it is a major contributor to the low development levels of women, due to the fact that, from time to time women have to withdraw from participating in other development activities and offer support as far as talking care of the malaria patients is concerned.

To children malaria is a big problem also. This is because consider a case where a child is born of a mother with malaria. Most of these mothers give birth to anemic children with low birth weights, a condition that greatly affects a children’s future development.

This mostly happens when a child survives through maternal illness times. The case is different when it comes to children who cannot survive through times when their mothers are under attack from malaria. In this regard, malaria is one of the leading diseases that have contributed greatly to the increased numbers of child mortality cases.

It is important to note here that, research findings ascertain that, the occurrence of malaria is more rampant in pregnant women as compared to non-pregnant women. This is because majority of pregnant women’s immunity levels towards infections are low because in some cases the parasites hide in the placental walls.

Most parasitic attacks on the placenta have adverse effects on pregnancy in that, in some cases some pre-mature births occur, whereby in most scenarios of this like a nature the likelihoods of a child surviving are low. These pre-mature births results primarily because, most parasitic attacks on the placenta can cause abnormal labor pains.

It is necessary to note here that, pre-mature births not only put a child’s survival at stake, but also it risks a mother’s life because of health complications that may result during the process, whereby chances of surviving are minimal (Snow and Guyatt pp. 760-762).

To the community malaria’s effects are many primarily because the well being of a community depends of the health status of its members. Malaria is a major impediment to development in communities in that, most communities have dedicated their funds towards treating the disease. This has greatly contributed to the current existing poverty levels in most sub-Saharan countries in Africa.

In addition, due to the looming poverty in most African countries, the condition is worse when it comes to treatment of malaria because; most individuals cannot afford the required medication to treat the disease. Therefore, because of deteriorated medical conditions many deaths occur, a factor that disintegrates a society’s social systems and relationships hence, affecting a society’s peaceful state.


In conclusion, for sure malaria is a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, due to this, it is important for combination of efforts of both national and international organizations, in helping sub-Saharan Africa to alleviate threats that this disease is causing. This is so because, this region has a major role it plays as concerns the well-being of global economies.

On the other hand, governments within this region should insist on the importance of preventive measures rather than curative measures. This is due to the fact that, in preventing the occurrence of malaria, many nations can reduce the costs they incur in treating the disease.

In addition, it is important for nations to realize that, preventive measures can also reduce the number of deaths that result from malaria, hence ensuring a healthy working population.

Works Cited

Donnelly, Martin, Klinkenberg, Eveline, Lengeler, Christian, Bates, Imelda, D’Alessandro, Umberto, Barnish, Guy, Konradsen, Flemming, Townson, Harold, Trape, Jean, Hastings, Ian, and Mutero, Clifford. Malaria and urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria Journal 4(12) (2005): 12. Web.

Jhpiego. Malaria prevention and treatment. 2009. Web.

Korenromp, Eline, Williams, Brian, and Vlas, Sake. . Web.

Loring c. Brace. “Race” is a four-letter word: the genesis of the concept. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.

Marshall, Helen. . Net Doctor. 2010. Web.

Molnar, Stephen. Human variation: Races, types and ethnic groups (6th e.d.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

Nosotro, Rit. Diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa. Hyper History. 2010. Web.

Pearson, Chris. The economic effects of Malaria and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Pigeon Project. 2010. Web.

Snow, Robert, and Guyatt, Helen. Impact malaria during Pregnancy on low birth weight In Sub-Saharan Africa. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 17(4) (2004): 760-769. Web.

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