What Can Nigeria do About Malaria?

Malaria is an endemic disease in Nigeria, being the leading cause of morbidity and mortality with all Nigerians at risk.

The disease, caused by the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, is also the leading cause of school absenteeism, hospitalisation and out of pocket expenditure..

A recent survey pegged the economic cost of malaria in Nigeria at N120 billion annually due to the loss in working hours, hospitalisation, and out of pocket expenses as it accounts for more than 60 per cent of hospital visits, over 20 per cent of under 5 mortality and 11 per cent of maternal mortality.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that 44 per cent of household out of pocket expenditure in Nigeria is on malaria, adding that malaria causes a significant loss in economic growth and puts a strain on household finances.

Nigeria continues to bear the disproportionate brunt of the malaria toll accounting for 27 per cent and 23 per cent of global cases and deaths respectively, says WHO.

Despite these alarming statistics, many households remain vulnerable to malaria infection due to poor living conditions and economic hardship.

A roasted fish seller in Jokwoyi, a suburb in Abuja, Mrs Cecilia Inegbenosa, has four children. According to her, the children often fall sick from malaria and she most times ends up spending the little profit she makes from her business on medication.

When asked why she doesn’t protect her family from mosquito bites through the use of Long-Lasting Insecticides Treated Net (LLITN) and by ensuring that her environment is clean, the fish seller said they only have one net and all the children cannot sleep under one net.

Also, she said her house is surrounded with bushes and stagnant water as they live in an uncompleted building since she and her husband cannot afford the cost of renting an apartment in the neighbourhood.

However, the minister of Environment, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, has said that improved personal hygiene and environmental sanitation remain the best preventive measures of malaria.

He said although control of the adult mosquito bite through the use of Insecticide-Treated (Mosquito) Nets is posting some gains, attaining the desired impact is not near and is unfortunately not too reliable.

“Effective mosquito control takes the form of exclusion-removal of suitable vector habitat through sound hygiene and sanitation which stops breeding by preventing egg laying,” said Abdullahi.

The minister, who spoke at a press briefing in commemoration of world Mosquito Day 2020, said the advantage of mosquito life cycle control through environmental sanitation and physical attack is that in addition to malaria control, it also helps in tackling the menace of diseases such as yellow fever which is caused by Aedes mosquito species and encephalitis caused by virus-bearing culex species.

Word Mosquito Day is commemorated on 20th of August every year to raise awareness about the dangers of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and shine a spotlight on ongoing efforts in the fight against the world’s deadliest creature.

“It is therefore incumbent for Nigeria to join the fray in focusing attention on the cause (Mosquito) rather than its effect and/or impact as presented by its bite on the human skin or the development of the plasmodium pathogen it injects inside the human host,” said Abdullahi.

He urged individuals, family and community members to imbibe preventive measures by keeping waste materials and junks away from village squares, huts, rooms etc.

Also, the minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said though Nigeria contributes to a quarter of global cases and deaths of malaria, the country is driving down the prevalence of the malaria and other vector borne diseases in the country.

He said the country has been profiled for critical locations where Indoor Residual Spraying is urgently required with about 25 States on the list. “These are the states with the highest malaria burden or where there have been reversal of the gains in terms of malaria incidence,” he explained.

Ehanire therefore, called on the general public to support the malaria elimination efforts, noting that a large part of the implicating factors rests on human behaviour and attitudinal change.

“Simple actions like keeping our immediate environment clean, ridding our surroundings of refuse and unwanted receptacles, screening out windows and doors and sleeping inside insecticide-treated bed nets every night will go a long way in curbing the malaria menace as well as other mosquito-borne diseases,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Pest Control Association of Nigeria (PECAN) has identified pest control through source site management as a vital component of malaria control and elimination strategies in the country.

PECAN chairman, FCT Chapter, Terungwa Abari, has said that pest control is highly effective in preventing infection and reducing disease transmission.

He noted that malaria has caused developmental challenges, poverty, and millions of deaths in Nigeria and other African countries despite efforts by governments to control the disease, Abari stressed the need for multi-sectoral, sustained and diligent implementation of critical components such as vector management.

He said: “In most cases, approaches are focused more on activities to diagnose, control and treat malaria like establishment of disease management centers and provision of Malaria drugs and Long-Lasting Insecticides Treated Net (LLITN), etc. leaving a key component like Pest control through source site management out of the focus, Pest control through source site management must be a vital component of malaria control and elimination strategies as it is highly effective in preventing infection and reducing disease transmission.

“When committees are set with regards to finding a holistic solution to malaria and vector borne diseases, the pest control professionals who should be integral to such efforts are not mentioned amongst the other professions drawn.”

“Until the needed attention is given to these components of malaria intervention, ‘Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives’ like other beautiful themes in the past will only remain a mere proclamation. We have talked about this scourge for too long, the time to act is now, we must go back to basics – sanitation and pest control,” he added.

Related Articles

Back to top button