Keeping an Eye on Malaria
Something as prosaic as insect repellent isn’t normally a top priority for people who embark on a great adventure to go and work on the other side of the globe, but may make all the difference when it comes to protecting your employees from a very serious disease: malaria. According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 216 million malaria cases annually and 655,000 malaria-related deaths. Most cases occur in the tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, Africa and Central America.
Unfortunately, malaria is one of the leading causes of death among expatriates and business travellers every year, posing a significant risk to both employees and companies responsible for looking after these employees.
Malaria is caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium, and is transmitted via the bites of the Anopheles mosquito. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells. Flu-like symptoms usually appear between 10-15 days and, if not treated, malaria can become fatal by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs.
So what is the best way to approach such a simple and, at the same time, dangerous disease? Some expats put themselves at risk by thinking they are immune to malaria after being infected a couple of times, or by having lived for a long time in a malaria-endemic area. Nonetheless, studies show that people in these scenarios are only partially immune; in other words, they could contract malaria again and they do need to be careful. So risk awareness is key.
Prevention is also a great starting point. It is necessary to take basic measures, such as using mosquito repellent, having screens on doors and windows and using insect repelling nets over beds. This can be supplemented by frequent mosquito-fumigation at home, at work, and in places where mosquitos may breed.
There is also preventive medicine, which the employee can start taking before traveling to the risk area, such as chloroquine and paludrine. But be careful: these and other medicines should only be taken with a prescription, after consulting your doctor.
The Tempus team will organise an awareness and prevention check among your employees and their families in risk areas. Plus, even if one your employees or their dependants contracts malaria, they will be fully covered for treatment under their health insurance scheme. We will ensure that they have access to the best care, and if necessary, a medical evacuation can be organised. When diagnosed and treated promptly and properly, a patient with malaria can expect a complete recovery.