To Minimize Disabling Consequences Of Cerebral Malaria, Focus On Community-Based Prevention, Detection Programs
“Every year in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 500,000 children contract cerebral malaria — 110,000 of these will die and many others are left with neurological impairments that can affect their physical and intellectual functioning,” Mike Davies, former regional director, and Julian Eaton, senior mental health adviser for CBM, a disability charity, write in The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog. “Until recently, doctors have focused on the survival of patients with cerebral malaria and not on long-term outcomes,” they write, adding, “As a result, the number of patients who have developed chronic neuro-cognitive dysfunction following malaria has been underestimated and under-reported.” Therefore, “[m]uch more effort is needed to campaign for increased government support for services that help to minimize the disabling consequences of disease, including cerebral malaria,” they state.
“It is estimated that only around 15 percent of people with severe mental and neurological illness in sub-Saharan Africa can access the care they need,” Davies and Eaton write, adding, “In the field of neurological impairment, the gap between needs and resources can be partly addressed using a twin-track approach of advocacy for greater government support, combined with grassroots work — often by local [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] — to prevent malaria and to provide early detection and intervention services.” They conclude, “Mitigating the disabling consequences of neurological impairment through community-based early detection and intervention activities remains the best hope for an improved quality of life of many thousands of children in Africa and elsewhere” (5/15).
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