The risk of malaria is very real in Papua New Guinea.
In fact, according to Population Services International, there are around one million cases of the disease reported annually in PNG. For parents, protecting your family against malaria should be an important priority, and there are a number of easy steps you can take to reduce the danger.
In this article, we will explain how malaria spreads, and how you can help your family avoid it.
How do people get malaria?
By far the most common cause of malaria is a bite from an infection carrying mosquito. It is important to note that not all mosquitos carry the malaria parasite, but there is nothing distinctive about those that do. Therefore, it is vital that you and your family try to avoid all mosquito bites.
Important steps to protect your family against malaria
1. Apply mosquito repellent
Some people believe that those who grow up in countries where malaria is common have immunity to the disease. While this is true for some, it is not on a population wide basis and scientists do not fully understand why some individuals are immune and others are not.
This means that even if you have lived your whole life in PNG, and have never had malaria, you should still apply mosquito spray regularly. DEET is widely considered the most effective repellent, with 50% strength the best option for your skin.
2. Sleep with mosquito nets
Mosquitos are most active around dusk, but will continue to bite through the night if you give them the chance. Unfortunately, bites are not usually strong enough to wake people up, so in the morning you could find yourself covered.
To prevent this, mosquito nets are highly effective as barriers between you and the insects. It is important that you regularly check your net to make sure it has not got any holes in it, as this will compromise its effectiveness.
3. Wear long sleeves and pants
Despite the climate in PNG, it is important to wear long clothing as often as possible to further reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitos. Light, airy options are best because they make the heat more bearable while still keeping you protected.
4. Take the right medication
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to invest in anti-malarial medication. Drugs for malaria can either be pills or vaccines, and will need to be prescribed by your doctor.
They will also tell you how often you need to seek repeat medication, which can vary depending on a number of factors.
5. Act fast if you develop symptoms of malaria
You will not know straight away if you have contracted malaria. Generally, people start to experience symptoms between 10 days and 14 weeks of being bitten. The most are:
- A high fever and serious sweating.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal and general muscle pain.
- Diarrhea and bloody stools.
Because malaria is a life-threatening disease it is crucial that you seek medical attention should you, or a member of your family, develop these symptoms.
How medical insurance can help protect PNG families against malaria
1. Getting the medication
You will need to see a doctor to get your anti-malarial vaccinations or pills. If you have a large family, the cost of these appointments will quickly add up, especially as you need to go back periodically to update your protection. With medical insurance, you do not need to worry about the expense of seeing medical professionals.
2. Getting treatment
The good news is that, with the right treatment, malaria is usually fully curable. Medical insurance helps ensure you receive the best attention, without crippling fees.
An average recovery period for a malaria patient is around two weeks, though for some it can be a lot longer. When you have insurance, your insurer will help you cover paying for a hospital stay and you may even get to choose where you are treated, and who by.
For more information on personalised cover that can help you and your family stay safe against the risks of malaria, get in touch with the experts at Trans Pacific Assurance Limited today.