Malaria continues to occur in more than 80 countries, causing over 240 million infections each year, including in business and leisure travellers, and international and domestic employees. The World Health Organization estimates there were 2 million more cases of malaria globally in 2021 compared to 20201. International SOS’ data shows the trend continued in 2022, with the number requests for assistance related to malaria 10% higher than in 2021. In the context of World Malaria Day 2023, International SOS encourages organisations to support the global effort to invest, innovate and implement to deliver zero malaria.
Dr Irene Lai, Medical Director at International SOS, comments
Every organisation should review the malaria-risk to their workforce and implement measures to protect them. For those that send employees to malarial areas, this includes education and awareness, pre-travel medical review and preventive supplies, and access to rapid diagnosis and treatment. For those operating in locations where malaria circulates, this should include surrounding communities through an integrated malaria control programme.Dr Dave Knight, Medical Doctor and Malaria Specialist at International SOS, comments
Malaria cases and deaths have actually risen during the pandemic, and globally we seem to have lost some traction in controlling malaria. For the private sector, malaria remains a key health risk when operating in the tropics, especially in Africa and parts of Asia and South America. It is predicted with climate change that this risk could grow. Furthermore, there are no ground shifting technology solutions imminent over the next few years that will allow significant mitigation of this risk in a company workforce. We still rely on the age-old interventions. On a positive note, the new RTS,S vaccine is being rolled out in high transmission areas in Africa in infants and young children. It is not suitable for adults yet provides moderate but important protection to very young children over the first few years of life. The private sector should support this initiative in communities within which they operate where appropriate.
With the ongoing recovery of international business travel, there is a greater need to ensure protection against malaria for all those potentially exposed. People returning from their travels should be aware of malaria as a potential diagnosis. Global travel also has the potential to reintroduce or increase transmission of malaria in tropical and temperate countries that have either eliminated or controlled transmission. Thus, it’s critical for business travellers to do a pre-travel risk assessment of their destination, understand the symptoms and signs of malaria. If travelling to a malaria-prone area, business travellers should choose accommodation fitted with bed net and air-conditioning and know when and how to take their emergency standby medication.
International SOS outlines how organisations can help promote awareness and prevention of malaria
- Review the malaria-risk to their workforce and if operating in malaria-prone areas, implement an integrated malaria control programme
- Educate employees on the risk of malaria and importance of personal protection measures against mosquito bites using the ABCDE approach
- Provide preventive supplies such as insect repellent and anti-malarial
- Offer employees travelling to malarial areas with access to pre-travel medical review and destination travel risk-assessment
- Ensure travelling employees choose accommodations with bed net, air-conditioning and screening on doors and windows
International SOS advises the ABCDE approach to malaria prevention
- Awareness: be Aware of the risk and the symptoms.
- Bite prevention: avoid being Bitten by mosquitoes.
- Chemoprophylaxis: if prescribed for, use Chemoprophylaxis (antimalarial medication) to prevent infection.
- Diagnosis: immediately seek Diagnosis and treatment if a fever develops one week or more after being in a malarial area
- Emergency: carry an Emergency Standby Treatment (EST) kit if available and recommended (the kit that contains malaria treatment)
Join International SOS upcoming webinar on 25 April to learn from health experts on which malaria prevention strategies your organisation can adopt to contribute towards zero malaria in Africa. Register here.
International SOS also provides consulting services for every part of a company’s malaria risk mitigation programme, including experienced entomology consulting, assessment and design vector control programmes, eLearning to educate employees, medical consulting to ensure proper diagnostic and treatment pathways and data management, as well as ensuring a programme is well managed.
For more information on malaria, watch our short video here.
International SOS and Relate
International SOS has partnered with the Relate organisation for 10 years running, raising money by supporting their bracelet campaign. The Relate Trust is a proudly 100% not-for-profit social enterprise which predominantly sells handmade beaded bracelets around the world to raise money for charities globally, while creating jobs for people in low-income communities. To date, over 4 million of bracelets were sold worldwide and R72 million was raised to fight malaria2.
About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.
Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by more than 9,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune 500, as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 13,000 multicultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.
To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips: www.internationalsos.com