By Elizabeth Uwandu, Esther Oyeniyi & Onyinye Onyekwe
The Coordinator, ANDI Centre of Excellence for Malaria Diagnosis, Prof Wellington, has said that despite the reduction of malaria prevalence in Africa, the illness remained over diagnosed, a move he described being responsible for many needless deaths and waste of money and resources.
Prof. Oyibo revealed this at the maiden edition of the international Malaria Microscopy Course, held at the Dr D.K Olukoya Central Research Laboratories at the University of Lagos, which had participants from Nigeria and the Republic of Congo.
According to the Lab. Scientist, ” The 12-day course is to address the issue of malaria over diagnosis and help medical practitioners garner proper skill for proper diagnosis. Without this special skill you are likely going to confuse patients that present with fever to be malaria and we have seen this in different settings, both in the private and the public sectors.
“All over Africa malaria misdiagnosis is a big challenge. And we can’t continue with that anymore because the epidemiology of malaria is changing. We are seeing reduction in the prevalence of malaria across countries and in Nigeria. The question now is , how come we still assume that every fever is malaria? The reason is that diagnosis is weak.
“In 2010, data provided by the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, UNILAG, to the Federal Ministry of Health, showed that Malaria among children below age five was at 42 percent. In 2015, it dropped to 27 percent and in 2018, the national demographic and health survey conduced by the Federal Government revealed that Malaria had dropped to 23 percent. In fact Lagos is one of the states with the lowest burden of malaria.
” However, what people don’t know is that there are over 300 diseases that come with fever. Therefore, proper diagnosis do not only save the patient from spending money on drugs, but also saves the patient’ s life, ” Prof. Oyibo stated.
Earlier on, the Provost, College of Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL),Prof. Afolabi Lesi, while declaring the workshop opened, noted that, ” I think there is a lot of ignorance on malaria in our society. And it is easy to think that once you have fever if it is not malaria , it will be typhoid, I think that has to change. We need to accurately diagnose the cause of fever because without accurate diagnosis, you can’t treat it properly. The message to Nigeria is that when you have fever you should go to a facility where diagnosis can be made, ” he said.
Prof. Lesi also stated that, “My expectation is that the practitioners which are from different places should go back to their centres and improve malaria diagnosis within and outside Nigeria, looking at the people that we have here they are professionals they can do the job,” the Provost said.
On his part, one of the participants, the Director, UNILAG Consult, Dr. Ademola Oremosu, noted that ” Malaria is endemic in Africa and one of the problems is that there other causes of fever and many times people take malaria to be the cause of it. However, with this seminar, people will know how to properly do the laboratory diagnosis investigation of malaria. Then, we can quickly detect other fevers that are not malaria and manage them in order to apply their appropriate therapy,”P Oremosu said.