Mariama Jones and her husband, Samuel, were living comfortably in a home in Lawrenceville, Georgia. She had two children, a 10-year-old son, Ahmed, and 2-year-old daughter, Sonya. She had moved to Atlanta when she was 20 and built a productive and happy life over the course of the nex 16 years. Ms. Jones, a nursing assistant at a local health-care facility, was 19 weeks pregnant;the pregnancy was progressing well and that the baby was showing normal movements. Soon after, a family crisis required Ms. Jones to travel to to her home country, Sierra Leone, as soon as possible. She knew that she would be exposed to malaria, a dangerous disease that was very common in Africa. As a precaution, Ms. Jones had taken antimalarial pills as to protect herself and her unborn baby against the disease. When she was back in Atlanta, she went back to work; after a couple of days, however, she felt tired and weak and noticed a changed taste in her mouth. Within only a week back in the States, she developed symptoms such as fever and chills, and she had trouble going to work. She believed her illness could be malaria, so she visited her family doctor, who drew blood for a malaria test and prescribed a general antibiotic while waiting for the lab results. Her condition only worsened over the course of the next few days. She had no desire to eat, yet she was constantly feeling dehydrated. Her head and body ached, making it impossible for her to walk— she then deemed it necessary to be admitted in the hospital (CDC – Malaria – People With Malaria Speak).
The seemingly exponential growth of the human population since 1950 — growing from 2.5 billion to 6 billion — already has begun shifting the way in which infectious diseases spread (Gholipour).
Due to overpopulation, many problems have risen in such a short time; disappearance of nonrenewable resources, desertification, unemployment, rising conflict between territories, and environmental damage to name a few. However, there were also food shortages, which lead to starvation; additionally, water supply contamination greatly fueled easily spread diseases. Natural changes driven by climate change, such as temperature or precipitation, aren’t the only factors influencing malaria transmission; population size and the immunity levels among populations also have a great impact (The Effect of Overpopulation on Public Health).
Scholars suggest that public health is at risk, considering the alarming rate at which the work population is growing. The adverse side effects of overpopulation already have impacted most countries, and as the rate at which the population grows continues to increase, the bigger this issue is for the general public’s health. When there’s overpopulation, the aforementioned issues such as food shortages, water supply contamination, and easily spread diseases arise.. When there are unsanitary conditions and crowded living spaces, chances of contracting these easily spread diseases, such as malaria, become extremely high.
Chances of contracting malaria can be increased due to climate change in certain spots around the world; however, in other places, climate change may have little to no impact on the spread of this horrible disease. “Temperature and precipitation changes driven by climate change aren’t the only factors influencing malaria transmission,” said the speakers at the October 23 event, held as part of Harvard Worldwide Week. Eltahir, an expert in hydrology and climate, discussed studies conducted in several locations in Africa in which researchers examined a host of variables—such as precipitation, temperature, altitude, the mosquito life cycle, and patterns of water availability that could influence mosquito breeding—in order to create computer models predicting future malaria transmission. He noted that, in some locations, climate change is expected to produce wetter weather—which could help mosquitoes breed—but that temperatures are also predicted to increase, which could harm mosquitoes. In essence, these two effects could cancel each other out, resulting in either similar or even decreased levels of malaria in parts of Africa. “In general, the story of climate change and malaria in Africa is not a terribly bad story,” Eltahir said (Feldscher).
To add on, Johanna Lindahl and Delia Grace talk about the consequences of human actions and the risks that come with these infectious disease. In the article they wrote they talk about how not only are these infectious diseases causing sufferinf and death but also causing severe economic implications. An example the give in their article is the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK in the beginning of the twenty-first century which led to the culling of four million animals for the purpose of disease control, and cost the nation more than £3billion, not including losses from decreased tourism. “Economic losses may in addition be caused by secondary effects. Death of bats in North America, due to the infectious white-nose syndrome, caused by an emerging fungus, and other anthropogenic causes of death, may cause agricultural losses of at least US$3.7 billion per year” (Lindahl).
Malaria is a difficult disease to control largely due to the highly adaptable nature of the vector and parasites involved. While effective tools have been and will continue to be developed to combat malaria, inevitably, over time the parasites and mosquitoes will evolve means to circumvent those tools if used in isolation or used ineffectively. More than 800,000 African children under the age of five die of malaria each year. Malaria also contributes to malnutrition in children, which indirectly causes the death of half of all children under the age of five throughout the world. Fifty million pregnant women throughout the world are exposed to malaria each year. In malaria-endemic regions, one-fourth of all cases of severe maternal anemia and 20 percent of all low-birthweight babies are linked to malaria. Currently, no licensed vaccine against malaria (or any parasitic disease that afflicts humans) exists. The complexity of the Plasmodium parasite and the lack of understanding of critical processes, such as host immune protection and disease pathogenesis, have hampered vaccine development efforts.
A solution to the cause could be managing your risk of malaria properly by planning your travels and checking the risk where you’re going. You could also use insect and mosquito repellents after applying sunscreen. Stay covered up, make sure you’re behind screen doors or windows at night, and always use bed net treated with insecticide. If you need them, make sure you take antimalarial tablets and you take them properly, every day while you’re then and as directed afterwards. Keep an eye out for malaria symptoms, such as fever, and always discuss any symptoms you do get with your doctor as soon as possible (Malaria Prevention).
In conclusion, there is an undoubtedly growing problem in the epidemic of Malaria in Africa due to the lack of knowledge and sanitary conditions. It is important that we educate these people so the chances of an outbreak occuring lessen. Throughout history the disease has been responsible for the decline of many populations. It is important for people to be aware as Mariama Jones was. Mariama would have daily checkups at the hospital whenever she felt something going wrong; she was very cautious of all her actions. With better education and knowledge the chances of being able to prevent malaria and other disease will be much higher as well as making our enviornment more sanitary.