Malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa

Malaria is a deadly disease that is very prominent in African regions. In fact, Africa accounts for 85% of the total number of malaria cases and 90% of the deaths attributed to it worldwide (“10 Facts on Malaria in Africa”). Malaria is the transmission of infectious parasites by way of infected mosquitoes. The disease has been around for thousands of years and usually infects poor rural areas where proper healthcare is not available. Many organizations like the World Health Organization continue to try to raise awareness of the issue worldwide and raise funds to provide ways to reduce the incidence of the disease. Some of the methods of prevention are the use of sleeping nets that have been treated with insecticide, indoor insecticide spraying, and drug therapy (especially during pregnancy). Governmental leaders have also committed to providing access to malaria prevention and treatment to all people (“10 Facts on Malaria in Africa”) and many, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) exist to prevent the spread of the disease such as Africa Fighting Malaria (an advocacy group), Nets for Life (a faith-based support system for those affected by malaria), and Malaria No More (a fundraising group) (“Non-Governmental Organizations”).

Anthropologists Caroline Jones and Holly Williams suggest in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene that it is the social burden of malaria that must ultimately be understood and addressed with prevention methods in order for global eradication of the disease. They argue that biomedical methods, at best, will co-exist with traditional methods, which may not lead to the desired communal change. Their work has yielded quantified evidence that health behaviors are not the result of passing on knowledge or changing beliefs. Instead, real change only occurs when the anthropologist understands the social, political, cultural, and economic influences. Jones and Williams suggest that it is a lack of understanding these influences by anthropologists and policy makers that have prevented any real global change from occurring over the past few decades (“The Social Burden of Malaria: What Are We Measuring?”). Hopefully malaria advocates will heed their suggestions and eradicate this deadly disease.



Africa Fighting Malaria. “Non-Governmental Organizations.” Accessed August 8, 2014.

Jones, Caroline O.H., Williams, Holly A. “The Social Burden of Malaria: What Are We Measuring?” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 71 (2004). Accessed August 8, 2014.

World Health Organization. “10 Facts on Malaria in Africa.” Accessed August 8, 2014.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Kayla Lumpkin says:

    In the article called “ The Social Burden of Malaria: What are we measuring?” it showed how anthropologist are placing themselves in that situation and are trying to find the best techniques and treatment. The anthropologists seem to use an applied approach as they explain what they can do to help prevent and treat malaria. I believe getting an anthropologist point of view will contribute a better understanding of malaria because it has more than just biomedical factors. There are cultural and economic factors that are taken into consideration. Anthropologists first have to learn about the people under study, most importantly their habits, beliefs, and cultural traditions. The health care in Africa is not good, and with a small amount of doctors and nurses available to health, it is difficult to treat malaria effectively. Therefore, with anthropologist helping, it makes it easier to find the most effective form of treatment. As anthropologists find out which methods work and which don’t, they find out how others perceive this disease. Are African people really trying to be compliant to help anthropologist find out what the best treatment is? Are they taking the problem as serious as they should be? Anthropologist seek to gain the trust of Africans and others recieveing treatment to help others understand their treatments and prevention advice.

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