3.4.4 Vector-borne diseases

In the early phase of an emergency, rapid assessment should determine the risk for malaria infection in the disaster location. In the case of displaced or refugee populations, determine where the population is settling and compare it to the area the population is relocating from. Some level of treatment and/or prevention should be considered, including distribution of treated bed nets and health promotion of malaria prevention.

Malaria infection during pregnancy is a significant public health problem with substantial risks for the pregnant woman, her fetus, and the newborn child. In parts of the world where malaria is endemic, it may directly contribute to almost 25% of all maternal deaths. In high-transmission settings, where levels of acquired immunity tend to be high, infection may be asymptomatic in pregnancy. However it still contributes to maternal anemia. Both maternal and placental parasitaemia can lead to low birth weight, which is an important contributor to infant mortality. In low-transmission setting, malaria in pregnancy is associated with anemia, an increased risk of severe malaria and may also lead to spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight.

In settings where malaria is a problem, programs should use long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), and prompt diagnosis and effective treatment of malaria infections.

Displaced populations may find themselves at a greater risk for malaria infection. If the population settles in a malaria endemic region, laboratories, means for vector control and the most appropriate drug treatment for the region will need to be considered in the relief effort.  For populations travelling into a non-endemic region from an endemic region, drug treatments should be available to treat cases that might develop. In addition, surveillance should monitor malaria incidence, as the mosquito may also travel with the population and result in spread in the current location.