First and Second-Generation Migrants Need More Malaria Education

Immigrants and travellers returning home from visiting friends and relatives abroad (VFR travellers) top the list of travellers most at risk, with over 40% of all new cases being attributed to this group alone.

VFR travellers are the most challenging group with regards to malarial education, say anti-malarial specialists TravelPharm, and this World Malaria Day on April 25th should be used to engage communities about the subject.

This high rate of malaria among VFR travellers may arise for numerous reasons. It may be that many believe they do not require anti-malarial treatments when travelling back to their country of origin. This group also travel for much more extended periods of time than regular tourists and visit “local areas” rather than “tourist areas”.  VFR travellers may have a lack of trust around medical systems such as the NHS, or find that there are additional challenges, for example, language barriers in the UK that could prevent them from getting correct information.

The most current data available demonstrates there were 1,270 cases of malaria treated in the UK alone (2016). Over half of all cases were from first and second-generation migrants in the UK, of which 81% were visiting their family in the country of origin. Others included foreign visitors who fell ill while in the UK, new entrants and a small percentage of international students studying in the UK.

The bulk of new cases were from visits to Africa, notably Western Africa as well as a notable number from Southern Asia. The British regions that were particularly affected were London, in which over half of the cases were diagnosed.

But research by TravelPharm shows that different ethnic groups of VFRs, who visit various continents, may also be returning to the UK with different malarial strains. Plasmodium vivax, which is mainly found in Asia, was treated in hospitals with large Asian communities such as Birmingham Heartlands (12 P. vivax cases treated), Liverpool (10 P. vivax cases), and Bradford Royal Infirmary (5 P. vivax cases).   The majority of cases treating the more dangerous strain of, Plasmodium falciparum were found in London and imported from Africa.

Malaria Strains Map

In summary:

  • VFRs are the most significant group for bringing malarial strains back to the UK
  • Different ethnic groups are bringing back different strains, because of visiting families and relatives different countries
  • Those different strains are diagnosed in different parts of the UK accordingly
  • VFRs are a difficult group to reach – more needs to be done to reach out to these communities to educate about the required preventative medication.
  • All data can be seen in the supplied spreadsheets




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