Malaria and Singapore

Information about the protective medication against malaria available in Singapore, and how to use it...

Although Singapore is free of malaria, it is prevalent in all neighbouring countries. Residents of Singapore should be aware of the recommendation to take prophylactic medication if travelling to these areas (travellers are most susceptible in the remote areas outside of main cities). Advice is available from health centres and general practitioners (GPs) in Singapore.

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including South America, Asia and Africa. Every year, more than 500 million people contract malaria, and up to three million people die from the disease.

  • For a map of global malaria distribution: Click here

Malaria parasites are transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquitoes. These parasites are passed on to humans and they multiply within the red blood cells.

  • Details on the Anopheles mosquito from the US Centres for Disease Control & Prevention: Click here

Symptoms of Malaria

The symptoms include fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting and in severe cases, convulsions, which can lead to coma and death.

The transmission of malaria can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites with mosquito nets and insect repellents, or by mosquito control measures such as spraying insecticides and draining standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.

Treatment of Malaria

Although some are under development, no vaccine is currently available for malaria. Prophylactic drugs should be taken continuously when in endemic areas. Most of these drugs are actually used for the treatment of malaria, however when taken daily or weekly at a lower dose, they reduce the risk of malaria infection.

The modern anti-malaria drugs include:

  • Lariam (Mefloquine)
  • Doxycycline
  • Malarone (combination of Atovaquone and Proguanil Hydrochloride)

The prophylactic effect does not begin immediately after the drugs are first taken; visitors to endemic areas should begin taking the anti-malaria medication a few days to two weeks prior to travel and discontinue taking them one to four weeks after leaving (depending on the drug being taken).

The choice of which drugs to use depends on many factors, which include:

  • area of travel, which will determine the type of malaria parasites present
  • duration of travel in the endemic area
  • side-effects of drugs
  • health profile of the individual

Each course of malaria prophylaxis medication is tailored specifically to the patient's exposure in a malarial area. Regular visits to infected areas require a return trip to the doctor every time in order to obtain the appropriate prescription.

Further Information

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Information supplied by the International Medical Clinic (IMC) Family, paediatric and travel medicine services for the international community of Singapore, Tanglin Clinic and Jelita Clinic Copyright © 2008 International Medical Clinic (IMC) All Rights Reserved. Picture courtesy of Ronny Richert