In commemoration of the 2018 edition of the World Malaria Day (WMD), Malaria Society of Nigeria (MSN) in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR),Yaba, Lagos, has held a one-day malaria elimination sensitisation programme for communities in Sango-Ota, Ogun State.
The programme focused on malaria prevention and elimination activities including distribution of insecticide treated nets and free malaria screening and treatment.
Over 250 residents of Sango-Ota benefitted from the free malaria treatment while 220 insecticides treated nets were given free to the people.
The World Malaria Day is celebrated on April 25 annually to create awareness about the scourge of malaria in Nigeria and across the globe and suggest recommendations for possible solutions and controls.
The theme for this year is “Ready to beat Malaria”.
President of MSN, Dr. John Puddicombe, in his remarks warned the people against self medication in the treatment of malaria while reminding them that every fever is not malaria.
Puddicombe said people should always insist on tests to be carried out by experts before any diagnosis or treatment could be given.
To reduce the number of deaths arising from malaria in Nigeria, Puddicombe called on governments at all levels to stop concentrating malaria sensitisation campaigns in the urban areas, stressing that the awareness needed to get more at the grassroots were malaria deaths were mostly recorded.
The World Malaria Report 2017, shows that malaria continues to claim a significant number of lives: in 2016, 445 000 people died from malaria globally, compared to 446 000 estimated deaths in 2015.
The report also shows that the African region continues to bear 90% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths worldwide with Nigeria accounting for 27% of malaria cases and 24% of malaria deaths globally in 2016.
For the MSN President, “Governments at all levels should take the awareness on dangers of malaria to the grassroots. The country is still experiencing higher death rate from malaria because awareness campaign has not been adequately taken to the grassroots.
The burden of malaria is higher in the rural areas than in the cities but can be reduced through improved enlightenment campaigns”, he explained.
He also added: “Cammpaign should be reinforced on the distribution and use of insecticide treated nets: test before treatment and use of Artemisinin‐based Combination Therapy (ACT) for treating malaria.”
Still on the way forward, the medical expert said Nigeria can beat malaria by strengthening its environmental management, noting that keeping clean environment and eliminating mosquitoes breeding places would ensure low incidence of malaria.
He also recommended massive investment in malaria research, adding that government needed to put in more money into malaria research and stop depending on foreign donors for assistance.
The malaria expert also noted that NGOs in malaria control in the country should be encouraged and supported by government by incoporating them into its malaria control programmes.
Also speaking, Acting Head of Malaria Research, NIMR, Dr. Oluwagbemiga Aina who is also a member of MSN, said that there was the need to educate the people that malaria could kill within 48 hours, if not treated.
Aina advised the people to sleep under insecticide – treated nets, describing it as one of the most effective measures used for malaria prevention .
He also urged the people to always comply with the national policy on malaria that stipulates medical test before receiving treatment, adding that this will reduce unnecessary and irrational use of anti-malarial drugs.