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25% children who suffered from severe malaria can’t concentrate in class – Expert

FILE PHOTO: Malaria fever

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | Children who suffer from severe malaria, their problems don’t just end when they are discharged from hospital, Dr.Richard Idro, a pediatrician has revealed.

He said 25% of the children who have suffered from especially cerebral malaria have developed problems with learning whereas 10% of them develop epilepsy.

He together with colleagues at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences have been studying the effect of malaria for the past 15 years and each time they establish a key finding, they release the findings for interventions to be made to counter the problem.

In an interview with URN yesterday afternoon, Idro said the latest they are finding is the big extent of the mental health effect that is associated with the disease and are working to establish modalities for treatment that can help control these effects without interfering with malaria treatment outcomes.

To reach these conclusions, Idro says they assessed children being treated for severe malaria at Mulago hospital whereby they took records at the time of discharge, then after 6 months, after a year and after two years to establish how they were copying.

He said they used a child behavioral check list to rank whether one was expressing what is considered normal behavior for their age. At 2 years they found children aged between 18 months and 12 years who suffered both severe anemia and cerebral malaria had more problems concentrating.

He said even those with severe anemia, they have found that when they are admitted, transfused and they get discharged, they quickly get another attack of severe malaria which usually crashes them down or they will need another dose of transfusion for them to get better.

While results of this study he says will be released early next year, Idro who also sits on the World Health Organization’s Malaria Policy Advisory Committee says their latest researches are revealing to healthcare managers and the population of how serious malaria can get so that it can be controlled by using simple measures like sleeping under a treated mosquito net.

Currently, Uganda is suffering an outbreak that started in June and children are the most affected with Mulago alone admitting about five children per day. One of the reasons for the outbreak especially in Kampala, the Ministry of Health says is complacency since many had stopped sleeping in nets with a reduction in cases.

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