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Marking World Malaria Day

Today, April 25, 2016, the the international community will be marking World Malaria Day. It is a day set aside for countries to showcase their successes in malaria control and unify diverse initiatives in the changing global context. The theme for this year is “End Malaria for Good”. This theme reflects the vision of a malaria-free world set out in the Global Technical strategy for malaria 2016-2030. This strategy adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015 aims to dramatically lower the global malaria burden. It is estimated that about 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria, especially in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Middle East. It is worth restating that malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquitoes. Even in relatively mild cases, it can cause high fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, and severe anemia.
According to the World Health Organisation, there were 214 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, even as 438 000 deaths were caused by the disease. The happy news is that in the past 15 years, there has been a dramatic decline in the global burden of malaria, given that nearly 60 countries have reduced their malaria cases by 75 percent, while the rate of new cases has decreased by 37percent globally. Even at that, malaria remains one of the most serious health problems facing the world and particularly Nigeria. Nigeria is estimated to account for about a quarter of the global cases, 30percent of deaths and 29 percent (37million cases) of 128 million cases in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite the successes made so far in the fight against malaria, the disease still has a devastating impact on people’s health and lives. In Nigeria, an estimated 300,000 children die of malaria each year.
This accounts for over 25 per cent of infant mortality (children under one year), 30 per cent of childhood mortality (children under five), and 11 per cent of maternal mortality. About 50 per cent of the population has at least one episode of malaria annually, while children aged less than 5 years have between two to four attacks annually. Malaria is particularly severe among pregnant women and children under five years of age, due to their relatively lower levels of immunity. Of note is that Nigeria was one of the first countries to pilot the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm), with the aim of increasing affordability of ACTs. Other malaria elimination activities include mass distribution campaigns of long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and use of intermittent prevention therapy (IPT) drugs for mothers-to-be through antenatal care clinics.
These interventions were implemented by various government and NGOs like Society for Family Health (SFH) through social marketing techniques and promotion of products and programmes with a view to tackling malaria. In the end, it is the duty of both the government and citizens to prevent malaria. It is therefore pertinent that individuals’ use of mosquito bed nets treated with long lasting insecticide and indoor spraying to control the numbers of infected mosquitoes. Persons in area with large population of mosquito should wear long-sleeve clothing, long trousers or skirts and limit the amount of exposed skin. Lastly, we believe that with sufficient global commitment, major investments in research and development, the ambitious goal of malaria eradication can be met. Without an immediate, coordinated worldwide effort to eradicate malaria, this window of opportunity could close indefinitely and the progress already achieved will remain at risk.

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