The impact of COVID-19 on the fight against malaria

The impact of COVID-19 on the fight against malaria

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The impact of COVID-19 on the fight against malaria

At the start of December 2020, a digital interview between Arnoud Aalbersberg (Care Plus®) and Ashaba Faridah (Bambino Life Foundation) took place to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on malaria in Uganda.

Bambino Life Foundation

Ashaba Faridah is a Ugandan pilot who wants to make a difference in her community, so she founded Bambino Life Foundation. The Bambino Life Foundation promotes girl child education and empowerment and children welfare. The common goal of both the Bambino Life Foundation and Care Plus® is to protect people from malaria by education on malaria and malaria prevention. Bambino Life Foundation educates children on malaria and reaches out printed mosquito nets in rural areas provided by Care Plus®. COVID-19 has an impact on the goal to eradicate malaria and on the activities that the Bambino Life Foundation does.

strijd tegen malaria met het buy one give one programma van Care Plus

COVID-19 in Uganda

Uganda got ahead of COVID-19 before there were any cases. The president put the country under lockdown and closed the borders which resulted in a number of COVID-19 deaths below 40 in Uganda, but the strict lockdown measures affected the outreaches as well.

Double effect of COVID-19 on malaria; no outreaches and increased risk of malaria

Normally large groups of 500-600 girls gather together for an outreach, but the Ugandan government put a stop on large groups. Bambino Life Foundation was able to do only one small outreach since the start of the pandemic. To make outreaches possible again in the rural areas of Uganda, hand sanitizers and reusable face masks are needed.

Moreover, the risk of malaria increased as people stay inside their houses and mosquitoes prefer dark places like in houses. So, there’s a double negative COVID-19 effect on malaria.

Recent WHO insights on malaria

In the last 15 years malaria infections and deaths decreased by 50% to around 420.000, but the World Health Organization* (WHO) reported that the numbers are increasing again and are close to potentially 1 million malaria deaths again, so we’re basically back at the start.

* Source: World Health Organization

Malaria is deadlier than the COVID-19 pandemic

Malaria is a deathlier pandemic than COVID-19. Every minute, someone dies from malaria. Most people, especially in rural areas, cannot afford proper medical help once they have malaria. Although malaria makes more victims than COVID-19, the latter gets way more attention than malaria. Probably because malaria currently is not a global problem whereas COVID-19 is.

Uganda’s fight against malaria

The Ugandan government is doing its best in the continuous fight against malaria. In the past, they have distributed mosquito nets as well, but those mosquito nets are no longer up in the houses because of the low quality of the nets. Often, they are used as fishing nets.
The government can’t do the fight on its own, initiatives like the cooperation between Care Plus® and Bambino Life Foundation help in the fight. Especially since the provided nets are printed which make them super wanted by the local communities for their decoration.

Buy One, Give One program

Every buyer of Care Plus® product helps in the fight against malaria. The Buy One, Give One program makes sure that 1 percent of the turnover is used to make the world malaria free by 2030, for example by sponsoring printed nets to the Bambino Life Foundation in Uganda.

World Mosquito Day (Podcast)

World Mosquito Day (Podcast)

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World Mosquito Day (Podcast)

Today, 20th of August 2020, it is World Mosquito Day. A special day for Care Plus® and in ‘honor’ of this day we launch our fourth podcast. It is a very lively and inspiring podcast hosted by Arnoud Aalbersberg and with our guest Bart Knols (vector biologist). He has over 30 years of experience and doing specifically research on mosquitos, Malaria and Dengue. Therefore he is our go to person to talk about the latest status and his experience in the field. It is a refreshing interview about the deadliest animal of the world.

The podcast starts with Malaria and later on more local issues related to mosquitos are discussed.

Also available via Apple Podcasts

How to bring Malaria to zero cases?

With over 120 years of research, still one of the key questions remains how to dismiss Malaria.

It is a fact that a bednet (mosquito net) is still the primary tool in controlling Malaria around the world. Such an easy item that enables to protect and save so many lives of (young) kids and adults. In order to keep the bednet as an important prevention tool, two steps have to be taken:

  1. Make sure people have access to the impregnated nets and replace the impregnated nets after they have been used for 3 years
  2. Make sure people are using the net correctly without using the net for other purposes

Covid-19 and Malaria

In the interview the link between Malaria and Covid-19 arises a couple of times. For example, in case of a drop in Malaria cases and less immediate visibility of the consequences of the disease, people start acting less out of precautions and prevention. Comparable behavior can be currently seen with Covid-19. With decreased risk, attention to this serious issue is lost as well, risking a revival that could have been prevented with a continuous attention and prevention.

Moreover, reflections on the “it is not in my backyard” proposition are addressed, discussing questions on what we can do in Europe and how to join efforts to help African countries with still many (child) deaths due to Malaria.
Will for instance a vaccine help to eradicate Malaria?

The rise of the Tiger Mosquito in Europe and the Netherlands

More locally other developments are coming up around mosquitos. Last year the Tiger mosquito was found in the Netherlands. Bart and Arnoud discuss 3 pathways how these mosquitos end up inour backyard.

  1. Via transportation of used tires from airplanes, trucks etc that are refurbished and re-used in Europe.
  2. Via import of smaller plants, like Lucky bamboo plants.
  3. Via people carrying mosquitos accidentally in their caravan, camper of car after their holiday in Southern Europe.

The Tiger Mosquito is extremely powerful in transmitting diseases. In France, the Tiger Mosquito is already a serious issue and as soon as there is an established population of these mosquitoes it is only a matter of time before we will also have local issues with transmittable diseases, like Zika-Virus, Dengue or West-Nile virus. Risk is that there are no vaccins or medicines available for these diseases yet.

Prevention Products

Bart and Arnoud talk about the things we could do to prevent us from getting bitten. For example, think of avoiding water puddles around the house. It sounds so simple, but keep in mind it is not only a big can of water but also small trash, like a beer bottle or plastic around the house that can contain water. It sounds logic, but it is actually hard to educate people about the importance of eliminating these puddles.

Additionally, the two men also discuss new products currently on the market. Vitamines, buttons, Apps and many more. Listen how Bart & Arnoud think about this.

A lot is evolving and Arnoud and Bart have so much knowledge and expertise about mosquitos to share!
Want to know more?

 

Go listen/watch, Enjoy!

Want to know more about what we are doing with Care Plus®?

Growing number of registered tick bites (Podcast)

Growing number of registered tick bites (Podcast)

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Growing number of registered tick bites (podcast)

Last week it was National Tick week in the Netherlands. We took this opportunity to highlight and share our knowledge around (prevention of) ticks. Care Plus® has close to 28 years of expertise in safe travels & great stories (our mission!). Since 1997 we have been putting out specific content and products to prevent tick bites and to remove ticks safely and quickly.

In our Travel Health Podcast no.3 we are talking about the growth of the tick-population and why that is. We also talk about some persistent myths regarding ticks and moreover create more awareness for the prevention of tick bites.

We have two experts in the field of tick research and tick prevention to join our “tick-talk”

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Fedor Gassner: ”I’m an independent expert in biological hazards and risks at (and owner of) Gassner Biological Risk Consultancy since 2015. My core business is to support private and government organisations in dealing with and controlling biological risks. I will continue to apply my expertise on the ecology and prevention of tick bites and Lyme borreliosis. Knowing all about biological hazards such as tick bites is one thing, but transferring such knowledge to relevant stakeholders and making sure they are motivated and equipped to apply this knowledge is what I stand for.”

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Steve Schofield: “I am the Senior Advisor of Pest Management and Entomology for the Directorate of Force Health Protection within the Canadian Forces Health Services. I specialize in the field of mosquito and tick protection. Main focus is permethrin impregnated clothing for the Canadian Military.”

Myths about ticks

There are quite a few persistent myths about ticks buzzing around. One of the persistent stories people tell each other is that ticks fall from (oak)trees onto people. The source of this myth is unknown, but our experts emphasize that the habitat of ticks is close to the ground, in bushes, rubble, forest soil (shady and moist) and on taller grass helms where they wait for mammals to pass by. It is very unlikely that ticks, as small as they are (1mm), want to spend their energy climbing trees!

 

30% increase of registered tick bites

In June 2020 the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) shared some numbers on registered tick bites (1.500.000!) and infected people (> 20.000)1. There was an increase of 30% in tick bites from 2010 to 2017 in the Netherlands. Main reason for the increase of bites is the increase of deer population in the Netherlands and the dense population.

 

Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)

Ticks may carry the borrelia bacteria and/or the TBE virus. It is really important to always be aware of ticks when you go outside in tick season (March untill October) and remove them from your body as soon as possible! Other folk wisdom is that ticks can be removed with alcohol, matches or soap. That is however dangerous as a tick can dispose its stomach content into the bloodstream and transfer harmful diseases in this way. We advice you to use the a quality tick remover.

Learn more about ticks and the importance of tick bite prevention in our third podcast hosted by Arnoud Aalbersberg.

Enjoy!

 

1) Numbers are from RIVM

You can listen and subscribe to the podcast with Anchor: Anchor and Apple