Advising travellers: increase in UK’s malaria cases

A recent government report shows an increase in the number of imported malaria cases in the UK, from 2015 to 2016, suggesting that malaria prevention advice is required. 

The report from Public Health England (PHE) shows that in 2016, 1,618 cases of imported malaria were reported in the UK, 15.6 per cent higher than reported in 2015. London reported an increase of 24 per cent in malaria cases from 2015 to 2016, the geographical area with the largest proportion of imported malaria cases in England.

Data from the study states that the proportion of total cases that took a chemoprophylaxis drug recommended by the PHE Advisory Committee for Malaria Prevention (ACMP) has remained at 11 to 16 per cent since 2000. Health messages related to the importance of antimalarial chemoprophylaxis treatment may not be reaching those at a particular risk nor are people acting upon these messages. 

Those at a higher risk of acquiring malaria are those of Black African heritage, born in Africa and elderly, the report warns. Health professionals can help prevent malaria by providing malaria prevention advice, especially to those with an increased risk. The report suggests that this advice can be given not only during travel health consultations, but also via new patient checks and childhood immunisation appointments.

More advice and information regarding malaria prevention is available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre and gov.uk.

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