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Global warming leads to malaria increase – stay protected
Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria and with mosquito-borne diseases increasing due to global warming, the World Health Organisation is focusing on prevention to reduce the death toll of a disease that continues to kill more than 400 000 people annually, with over 200 million reported malaria cases every year.
In an awareness drive linked to World Malaria Day on 25 April, the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) is advising travellers to take the following basic precautions against the disease.
1. Determine your risk level
Educate yourself about your destination and the risk of getting malaria.
“With malaria areas speculated to spread in the future thanks to global warming, it is even more important to inform yourself before leaving for your destination,” warns Jackie Maimin, CEO of ICPA, “your local community pharmacist has up-to-date information on malaria and malaria areas”.
2. Stay inside at night
Avoid being outside after dark or sleeping outside. In your accommodation keep your curtains and insect screens on your widows closed. If you are sleeping in a tent, make sure you keep the net screens closed and ensure there are no holes anywhere. Keep the room or tent door closed at all times.
- Avoid stagnant water
Avoid camping in areas where there is stagnant water. Check for mosquitoes breeding in ponds or water lying in gutters or open rain tanks around your accommodation.
3. Always sleep under a mosquito-net impregnated with insecticide
Check that the net is not damaged and always ensure it is properly tucked underneath your mattress. Keep the air conditioning or fan on, as mosquitoes tend to stay out of cool, air-conditioned rooms.
4. Use mosquito repellents
Insect repellents should be applied to any remaining exposed parts of the skin, especially in the evening and during the night. It is advisable to apply the repellent during the daytime as well.
Maimin advises that repellents should contain DEET or picaridin, the most effective active ingredients: “They are widely used to repel biting pests such as mosquitoes and ticks and products containing DEET are available to the public in a variety of liquids, lotions, sprays, and impregnated materials which are designed for direct application to people’s skin. Rather than killing mosquito’s, DEET works by making it hard for these biting bugs to smell us. Pregnant women, babies and small children should avoid entering a malaria area, however, if it is unavoidable then babies should be kept under mosquito nets as much as possible. DEET containing products can be applied on babies sparingly once a day from 2 months onwards but should not be applied to infants under 2 months. The use of DEET should not be avoided in pregnancy. Given the seriousness of malaria in pregnancy, it is recommended to use DEET at a concentration of 50% as part of the malaria prevention regime.
Plug-in mosquito repellent units also work well however they may irritate people who are asthmatic or have allergies and should be used with care around pets.”
5. Go for long sleeves
Wear light coloured, long sleeve shirts and trousers in the evening and at night with socks to protect your ankles. The less skin that is exposed, the better. Additionally, you can treat your clothes with permethrin in order to increase your protection.
6. Sunscreen comes first – repellent second
If you are using sunscreen, it should be applied first and the insect repellent second. The repellent will not work if you cover it with a thick layer of sunscreen. Alternatively, use a sunscreen that contains a repellent.
7. Take antimalarial medication
Ask your local community pharmacist about the risk of acquiring malaria in the area you plan on visiting. The risk is determined by a number of factors including the malaria transmission in the area and season of visit, as well as the length of stay, type of accommodation, and likely activities between dusk and dawn. The choice of malaria preventing medication is determined by local antimalarial drug resistance patterns, patient factors including, chronic illnesses, current medication, planned activities and duration of stay. There are malaria preventative medicines available as pharmacist advised therapy. Your pharmacist will be able to advise whether these would be suitable or whether you need to visit your doctor. Depending on the medication you use, you may need to start taking the medication one week prior to entering the malaria risk area.
8. Follow your prescription carefully
Do not forget to take the anti-malarial medication exactly as prescribed and do not stop taking it too early after your return. Most medications have to be continued for 4 weeks after you leave the malaria-affected area.
9. Be on the safe side
Patients should be made aware that malaria should be urgently excluded with ANY febrile illness occurring within 1 week to 3 months after visiting a malaria area, regardless of whether or not chemoprophylaxis was taken, or mosquitoes were seen. Early effective treatment is essential to prevent progression to potentially fatal severe malaria. If you experience any fever- or flu-like symptoms within 1 week to 3 months after visiting a malaria area, regardless of whether you took anti-malarial medication or mosquitoes were seen, always inform your healthcare professional so that malaria can be excluded. Early effective treatment is essential to prevent progression to a potentially life-threatening malaria.
“Even if you have done everything right, there always remains a small risk of contracting malaria. Chat to your local community pharmacist if you are planning a trip to a malaria area – it is far better to be safe than sorry.,”
Immunisation saves millions of lives and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. As World Immunisation Week (24 – 30 April) and African Vaccination Week (23 – 29 April) are celebrated this month, the focus is firmly on dispelling the myths that abound about vaccinations and on promoting the widespread use of vaccines to protect people of all ages, and especially children and the elderly from easily preventable diseases.
According to the World Health organisation (WHO) routine immunization is a building block of strong primary health care and universal health coverage—it provides a point of contact for health care at the beginning of life and offers every child the chance at a healthy life from the start. Immunization is also a fundamental strategy in achieving other health priorities, from controlling viral hepatitis, to curbing antimicrobial resistance, to providing a platform for adolescent health and improving antenatal and newborn care.
In support of Africa Vaccination Week and World Immunisation Week, the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA), is urging all South African parents to ensure that their children’s immunisations are up to date and to make use of convenient clinics in their local community pharmacies to get vaccinated.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines contain either:
- Non-infectious fragments of bacteria or viruses,
- Whole live bacteria or viruses that have been weakened so that they cannot cause disease,
- A toxin that is produced by the bacteria that has been rendered harmless (called a toxoid).
“When vaccines are introduced into the body (usually by injection) they stimulate the body’s immune system to fight against that disease, without the person actually getting the illness. Once the immune system has been activated by the vaccine it recognises any future invasion by that particular virus or bacteria and is able to mount a rapid and effective immune response before the infectious agent can establish itself within the body and cause disease,” explains Maimin.
Why must we vaccinate against rare diseases that have been almost eradicated?
“Diseases such as diphtheria and polio are rarely encountered today largely because of widespread vaccination programmes. It is essential however to continue to vaccinate until a particular disease is completely eradicated before we stop vaccinating. These diseases are extremely contagious and if we stop vaccinating prematurely one infectious individual could cause rapid spread amongst a vulnerable non-immune community. By maintaining a regular vaccination programme we ensure “herd” immunity and protect our communities against an epidemic.”
“Collective action is needed to ensure that every person is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
How safe are vaccines?
Vaccines available today are highly reliable and are well tolerated, with very few exhibiting mild side effects such as pain at the injection site, an itchy rash or mild fever.
“Vaccines are continuously undergoing improvements to ensure their safety and effectiveness.”
Do combination vaccines work?
“In addition to protecting children against numerous diseases, one of the biggest advantages of combination vaccines is that the child needs to have fewer injections, and combining vaccines in one injection does not affect the effectiveness or safety of the individual vaccines,” says Maimin.
Community pharmacy clinics provide immunisations
“Many independent community pharmacies across South Africa offer a clinic service where people can go to get their children immunized. Pharmacy clinics offer a safe, convenient, accessible and affordable way to keep up to date on immunizations. They utilise the services of competent professionals, such as nursing sisters or pharmacists trained in immunisation techniques, to provide vaccinations.”
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP)aims to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunization. “Despite improvements in individual countries and a strong global rate of new vaccine introduction, all of the GVAP targets for disease elimination—including measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus—are behind schedule. Therefore in order for everyone, everywhere to survive and thrive, everyone must work together to ensure they, and their loved ones, are protected through immunisation.”
Make sure your child’s Vaccinations are up to date.
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The ICPA advises that there are other vaccines for children available which are not currently provided by the State via the Extended Programme of Immunisation – these include:
- Influenza (flu) vaccine
- Chickenpox (Varicella) vaccine
- Hepatitis A vaccine
- Measles, Mumps & Rubella vaccine
- Meningococcal vaccine
The ICPA recommends speaking to your doctor or pharmacist about whether or not you need to consider any of the additional vaccines for your child.
In addition, if you are travelling to other countries, remember to check which vaccines are required.
|Vaccine facts from the World Health organisation (WHO):
– There are more than 19 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world, putting them at serious risk of these potentially fatal diseases. Of these children, 1 out of 10 never receive any vaccinations, and most likely have never been seen by the health system.
– During 2016, 116.5 million infants worldwide received 3 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, protecting them against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness and disability.
– There has been an 84% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2016 worldwide, due to measles vaccinations.
– Polio cases have decreased by over 99% globally since 1988, because of improved vaccination programmes. Today, only 3 countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 countries in 1988.
The winter months can prove a nutritional challenge for some of us. Huddling in front of the fire and television on a wet, windy night is the perfect opportunity for planning healthy nutritious meals that not only satisfy but provide nutritional benefits. With some planning, you can help boost the immune system through good food and exercise, and better your chances from the winter ills.
Here are our top eight tips for healthy eating this winter:
1. Eat Plenty of Fruit & Vegetables.
Top up your immune system by eating antioxidant-containing fruit and vegetables. Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season such as mandarin, apples, grapefruit, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower and potatoes. Make the most of frozen and canned fruits, which are readily available, and cheaper, at this time of year. Get your 5+aday by making at least one fruit or vegetable a part of every meal and snack.
2. Make a Casserole
With a casserole you are able to use economical cuts of meat (blade steak, chuck steak, chops) with slow cooking methods. Red meat is high in zinc and iron, two minerals which boost the immune system. Legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, soy beans) are an excellent protein source, low fat, high fibre, low GI and economical. A casserole with meat, vegetables and a can of beans is a great way to boost your ability to fight disease, as well as being real comfort food.
3. Enjoy Soup.
Soup doesn’t have to be complicated as there are many good soup mixes available to use as a base. With lots of vegetables, some beans or lentils and maybe some meat, soup is the perfect food to build your immune system. If you do succumb to winter bugs there may be some truth to the reputation of chicken soup’s restorative powers.
4. Watch your portion sizes
It is very tempting to snack on foods, eat a large plate of food and seconds, when you are indoors all evening. To avoid eating too much try to eat your meals at the table with the family, turn off the TV, use smaller plates, and reserve half your dinner plate for vegetables.
5. Drink Plenty
Even though the temperature outside is chilly, you still need to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid each day. This includes tea, coffee and water.
6. Include Garlic
Garlic is a great disease fighter as well as adding flavour to meals and food. Garlic will give the most benefit to your immune system when chopped and then left to stand for 10-15 minutes before adding to the pan. If garlic is cooked straight after it’s chopped you are not getting the full health benefit.
7. Choose foods containing Vitamin D
Sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, it has been shown to help support the immune system. In winter when the weather is often bad and the angle of the sun low it is possible many New Zealanders are not getting enough vitamin D from exposure to the sun. In this case food becomes the most important source of vitamin D. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are good sources of vitamin D and there are also vitamin D fortified milks and yoghurt available.
8. Keep moving.
Find an indoor sport or exercise class, rug up and brave the elements for a walk and arrange to meet a friend so that you have to turn up. Try increasing the amount of incidental exercise you do by taking the stairs instead of the lift or walk and talk instead of emailing a nearby colleague.
It’s no surprise that parents might need some help understanding what it means to eat healthy. From the My Plate food guide to the latest food fad, it can be awfully confusing.
The good news is that you don’t need a degree in nutrition to raise healthy kids. Following some basic guidelines can help you encourage your kids to eat right and maintain a healthy weight. Here are 10 key rules to live by:
1. Parents control the supply lines.
You decide which foods to buy and when to serve them. Though kids will pester their parents for less nutritious foods, adults should be in charge when deciding which foods are regularly stocked in the house. Kids won’t go hungry. They’ll eat what’s available in the cupboard and fridge at home. If their favorite snack isn’t all that nutritious, you can still buy it once in a while so they don’t feel deprived.
2. From the foods you offer,
Kids get to choose what they will eat or whether to eat at all. Kids need to have some say in the matter. Schedule regular meal and snack times. From the selections you offer, let them choose what to eat and how much of it they want. This may seem like a little too much freedom. But if you follow step 1, your kids will be choosing only from the foods you buy and serve.
3. Quit the “clean-plate club.”
Let kids stop eating when they feel they’ve had enough. Lots of parents grew up under the clean-plate rule, but that approach doesn’t help kids listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When kids notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they’re less likely to overeat.
4. Start them young.
Food preferences are developed early in life, so offer variety. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food on several different occasions for a child to accept it. Don’t force a child to eat, but offer a few bites. With older kids, ask them to try one bite.
5. Rewrite the kids’ menu.
Who says kids only want to eat hot dogs, pizza, burgers, and macaroni and cheese? When eating out, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering an appetizer for them to try.
6. Drink calories count.
Soda and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for kids. Juice is fine when it’s 100%, but kids don’t need much of it — 4 to 6 ounces a day is enough for preschoolers.
7. Put sweets in their place.
Occasional sweets are fine, but don’t turn dessert into the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating dinner, kids naturally place more value on the cupcake than the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about foods.
8. Food is not love.
Find better ways to say “I love you.” When foods are used to reward kids and show affection, they may start using food to cope with stress or other emotions. Offer hugs, praise, and attention instead of food treats.
9. Kids do as you do.
Be a role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don’t skip meals.
10. Limit TV and computer time.
When you do, you’ll avoid mindless snacking and encourage activity. Research has shown that kids who cut down on TV-watching also reduced their percentage of body fat. When TV and computer time are limited, they’ll find more active things to do. And limiting “screen time” means you’ll have more time to be active together