That is a question that many travellers going to countries like India and Africa often ask. I met a few people who spent some time in countries contaminated by Malaria and it was interesting to find their views (see their interviews in Words of Travellers Episode 2)
Malaria is a disease transmitted by the bite of malaria infected mosquitoes. It is a serious disease that in some cases may prove fatal.
There is no vaccines against malaria but there are treatments.
There are four types of tablets:
Malarone (1 tablet daily – starting 1-2 days before entering a malarial zone and continuing for 7 days after leaving the area)
Mefloquine (1 tablet weekly- starting 1 week before entering a malarial zone and continuing for a month after leaving the area)
Doxycyline (1 tablet daily – starting 2 days before entering a malarial zone and continuing for a month afetr leaving the area)
Chloroquine combined with Paludrine (2 tablets of Chloroquine weekly and 2 tablets of Paludrine daily – starting 1 week before entering a malarial zone and continuing for a month after leaving the area)
The reason why so many people are reluctant to take the tablets is that people can get very sick after taking them and get some really bad side effects such as depression, headache, nausea and visual disturbances. They also tend to be quite expensive and they don't ensure complete protection. I heard stories of people who got the treatment but caught malaria anyway.
So this is quite a tough decision to make. I was going to take the risk to travel without the treatment but after having spoken to a few travellers who got malaria I think that I will take some tablets during some parts of the trip, especially India.
Check the map of Medicine on NHS website to find out wether you should take the treatment or not