By Chioma Obinna

On this year’s World Malaria Day, pharmacists under the aegis of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN has said that Nigeria has the potentials to eliminate Malaria by 2025 if it introduces free malaria test and treatment for under 5s and pregnant women, environmental re-engineering, health education as well as invest in research and development.

Making the assertion in a message to mark the day in Nigeria, President of the PSN, Pharm. Sam Ohuabunwa explained that malaria is a disease of Public Health importance and influenced by the environment, hence the need for government to be intentional with town planning and discourage unauthorised constructions that disrupt waterways.

Ohuabunwa said drainages must be covered to discourage forming mosquitoes breathing sites.

Continuing, he insisted that Nigeria must begin to introduce free malaria test and treatment for under-fives and pregnant women as early and an accurate diagnosis was essential for rapid and effective disease management and surveillance. “Misdiagnosis allows disease progression from uncomplicated to severe. An estimated 65 per cent of Nigeria’s population live in poverty. Though there is the National policy of Artemisinin-based Combined

Therapy ( ACT ), which costs about N1,200 as the first-line treatment of uncomplicated malaria, current data indicates that over 70 per cent of children treated for malaria in Nigeria received chloroquine or sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine ( SP ) with an average cost of N200.

Ohuabunwa said government and corporate organisations should partner and provide free malaria rapid test kit and ACTs/SPs at community pharmacies for treatment for pregnant women and under 5s.

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On health promotion, the PSN President noted that the National Orientation Agency, NOA, should engage the people to continue to discourage habits that create breathing sites for mosquitoes.

“For instance, throwing empty food cans indiscriminately, overgrown bushes and blocked drainages around living homes. Prevention programs like the distribution and use of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets, intermittent prophylaxis for pregnant women, evidence-based health education on the mode of malaria transmission, indoor Residual Spraying with an effective insecticide should be facilitated by the government through the pharmacists.”

He further acknowledged the importance of Research and Development, R&D, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that there was little or no progress in solving health care problems without significant investment in R&D.

He said Government should consider the Universities and Research Institutes as “cantonments” and find them as such, to use the rich flora and fauna to create solutions for our health care needs including malaria.

Continuing, he noted that the importance of T3 “Test, Treat and Track” strategy for malaria case management by pharmacists still remain crucial in eradicating malaria in Nigeria.

Commending Nigerian Community Pharmacists, who have made the service an integral part of pharmaceutical care to their patients, he said pharmacists are committed to working with the government at all levels, other healthcare providers, and the broader malaria community to win the war against the malaria scourge.

Pledging their commitment towards a malaria-free Nigeria and the World, Ohuabunwa said:” noted that according to the WHO, between the year 2000 and now, a lot of progress has been made in the malaria fight, saving more than 7 million lives and preventing over 1 billion malaria cases. “However, not much success have been seen in the reduction in mortality rate since 2015, hence the need for a re-jig in our strategy.”

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