By Chioma Obinna
As the world marks this year’s World Malaria Day with the theme: “Achieving Zero Malaria Begins with Me”, the Lagos State branch of Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, has called on Federal and state governments to be intentional and proactive in the fight against malaria if the country must reduce the high number of cases and deaths in Nigeria to achieve a marked impact on national and international targets.
Making the call in a press statement jointly signed by the Chairman of the Lagos NMA, Dr Dr Adetunji Adenekan and the Secretary, Dr Imeh Okon, the NMA insisted that Nigeria, particularly, Lagos State, needs to self-audit her role in sustaining the heaviest burden of a preventable and curable disease that can also, be eliminated especially in children under the age of 5 and pregnant women.
“We need more commitment from the government in the area of funding to maintain progress and continue scaling up coverage of effective malaria interventions.
“More resources are needed to develop and maintain effective surveillance programmes and to combat increasing mosquito resistance to insecticides and parasite resistance to antimalarial drugs.
“Thus for this year’s World Malaria Day, it is a wakeup call for all and sundry to assist in making Lagos and Nigeria as a whole Malaria free.”
Citing WHO report, the NMA, nations that have successfully beat malaria did so through a combination of advanced medication and treatments, the prevention of mosquito bites, and the elimination of infected mosquitoes.
They maintained that these countries achievements ought to serve as an inspiring example for the larger global fight to end malaria for good.
“One of the most cost-effective ways of preventing malaria is making our environment clean such as eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes, for example, ponds and stagnant waters.
“A clean environment does not abhor mosquito and as such reducing the prevalence of malaria and its attendant complications,” they stated.
“It’s our hope that Lagosians will take this message home and implement Zero Malaria Begins with Me in their various communities thereby reducing the burden of malaria in our society.
Malaria infections in humans, is an age-long disease that can be prevented. Though curable, it can have very devastating complications and even lead to death if not diagnosed early, correctly and managed adequately.
Plasmodium spp parasite causes malaria infections and it is transmitted by the female anopheles’ mosquito. It is a well-known parasitic disease that has continued to be of major public health importance and is presently a global health priority with under 5 children (Malaria is a major killer of children under five years old, taking the life of a child every two minutes) and pregnant women being the most vulnerable.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2018 world malaria report, the WHO African region had the highest malaria cases (200million which is 92 per cent) in 2017, followed by the WHO South-East Asia region with 5 per cent of the cases and WHO Eastern Mediterranean region with 2 per cent.
A point to note is that a significant percentage (80 per cent) is borne by 15 Countries in Sub Saharan Africa and India. Five countries accounted for almost half of all malaria cases worldwide. Nigeria contributes the greatest proportion of the malaria disease burden and she currently bears the heaviest malaria burden of cases about 25percent followed by Mozambique 5 per cent, India 4 per cent, Uganda 4 per cent and Congo 1 per cent.
Several countries have successfully eliminated malaria for decades from different regions of the world and records now show countries recently certified as malaria-free, alongside future elimination targets.