ABUJA – The Federal Government has said that malaria is still responsible for 30 per cent of child deaths and 11 per cent maternal deaths in the country because of the continued use of oral monotherapy for the treatment of the disease.
The National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Dr Audu Mohammed, stated this during a media chat on the fight against malaria in Abuja
According to him, it was expedient for Nigerians to adopt Artemisinin based Combination Therapy (ACT) for the elimination of malaria as against the use of oral monotherapy.
Represented by Dr Nnenna Ogbulafor, the NMEP boss said: “Malaria is still responsible for 11% of maternal deaths and 30% of child deaths. It contributes to 60% of out-patient visits to health facilities, 15% of low birth weight, maternal anaemia, still births, miscarriage and other pregnancy-related complication.
“It is also one of the principal reason for poor school attendance in many settings because its account for 13 to 15 percent of medical reason for absenteeism from school.
“It is because of these alarming statistics that Nigerians need to discontinue the use of oral monotherapy for the treatment of malaria and adopt Artemisinin based Combination Therapy (ACT) for the elimination of the life-threatening disease.
“On our part, we understand that eliminating malaria requires a multi-pronged approach as well as social behavior and communication change is key in achieving this goal.
“We have used various strategies to fight malaria and they include sustained public service announcements focusing on what individuals and groups can do to help eliminate malaria such as sleeping inside Long Lasting Insecticidal Treated Nets, indoor residual spraying, larval sources management, promote diagnosis with Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDTs) and effective treatment using Artemisinin based Combination Therapy (ACT).
“Other approaches involve the management of malaria in pregnancy, monitoring and evaluation, strong collaborations and partnerships with relevant bodies and organisations, effective coordination of malaria control and elimination activities,’’ he said.
Mohammed therefore urged Nigerians to test all cases of malaria and treat adequately with the recommended drug known as ACT.
Also speaking, the Director, Pharmacovigilance and Post Marketing Surveillance, National Agency for food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Ali Ibrahim, said malaria remains a huge problem in Nigeria and ACTs are the best to combat the disease.
Ibrahim who noted that there is shortage of ACTs drugs, called for adequate funding of the health sector and war against illegal importation of anti malaria drug.
He however urged Nigerians to authenticate all malaria drugs before use.