Under its “Seafarers’ Health Information Programme”, International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network issued a report on malaria prevention, as the disease causes at least 1 million deaths every year, the majority of which occur in resource-poor countries, such as Africa, south and central America, Asia and the middle east.
Shipowners P&I Club states that malaria consists also a maritime problem for the following reasons:
- unawareness of the fact that malaria is a serious and potentially fatal disease
- insufficient information regarding the clinical picture of malaria
- no or insufficient use of anti-mosquito measures and the classical protective medication
- increasing resistance of many new malaria strains to the medication
- the fluctuating frequency of malaria occurrence in the most dangerous areas, which leads to miscalculation of the real risk.
The symptoms of the most life-threatening type of malaria are usually experienced between 1 week and 2 months after infection. There are other, less severe types of malaria, which can cause symptoms more than a year later. Even in its uncomplicated form, malaria is debilitating. It clinically presents with a variety of non-specific, flu-like symptoms, including:
- fever (often exceeding 40°C)
- nausea and vomiting
- myalgia (muscle pain)
Concept posters have been further issued
Shipowners Club recommends the following prevention measures to seafarers and shipowners:
- Be aware of the risk : The ship management needs to review all the ports to be visited, and check the malaria risk. This cannot be done simply by looking at what country the port is in, as risk varies in different areas within each country and the risk on the coast has to be compared to the risk inland.
- Avoid being bitten : The best way to prevent malaria infection is to take measures to avoid being bitten. The mosquitoes tend to respond to light in their feeding habits and are most active in low light hours after dusk and in the hours prior to dawn. It is important that repellents are used between dusk and dawn to prevent being bitten. Use a repellent that has DIETHYL-M-TOLUAMIDE (DEET), to be renewed every four/six hours. Use clothing that covers the body, such as long trousers and long sleeves, socks etc.
- Take antimalarial drugs : The captain has to make sure that everybody onboard takes the prophylactic medication. Although many people are very reluctant to take medication when they do not feel sick, in case of malaria risk they will have to be persuaded to do so.
- Early diagnosis and treatment for a febrile illness : Immediate diagnosis of malaria is essential since complications arise within hours or days of the first symptom, and because falciparum malaria can rapidly progress to life-threatening disease. If the diagnosis of malaria is suspected onboard, treat first, and then arrange for definitive diagnosis.
Further information may be found in the official report herebelow:
Source: Shipowners P&I Club