As the world celebrates world malaria day, concerns are being raised over how well Nigeria, with over 170 million people is fighting to eradicate and keep a clean slate against malaria, which claims over 300,000 lives annually.
The theme for this year’s malaria day is “Let’s close the gap”. But the major issue is; how much concerted effort from both the public and private sector is utilized to reduce the increasing number of cases, and what can be done to reduce malaria cases to zero.
Speaking with Ripples Nigeria, some experts reveal the real reasons Nigeria has not been doing so well and what needs to be done to emulate some other countries where malaria has been reduced to zero.
Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan explained that “owing to the mortality rate attributed to malaria, the grassroot remains the under-served communities that needs to be reached due to the high burden of malaria cases recorded in communities, due to their inability to afford long lasting insecticide treated nets to help the prevention of malaria”.
Another issue raised is the fact that proper sanitation is not carried out to reduce the breeding of parasitic mosquitoes.
Ojo Roland, a student of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) points to sanitation as a key factor towards militating the spread of malaria in Nigeria
“Sanitation is a major issue that aids the prevalence of malaria in Nigeria, stagnant water within habitation, drainage system that is filled with dirt, blocking proper flow of water”.
With reference to a recent discovery during a campaign, Roland believes self-diagnosis and myths still play a major role in wrongful treatment of the sickness.
“Negligence, myths and conceptions; most people do not know what causes malaria. Meanwhile, most people when they have headache they call it fever while the major thing is proper diagnosis, which is not free, people just do self-diagnosis, which is quite wrong. Malaria treatment is quite costly because you have to spend money to test and also to treat”, He stressed.
Experts in time past have lamented the high cost of anti-malaria medicine and the fact that prevention is paid very little attention.
Also, due to the expensive nature of treating malaria, some private sector initiatives have been introduced. According to Muntaqa Umar Sadiq, a stakeholder in the Private sector health alliance, there is the need to establish an Innovative financing platform to compliment efforts from the Government and target the root causes of under performances in the fight against malaria.
With Malaria representing one of the biggest health and development challenges in Nigeria with mortality rate recording a double-digit figure, investments worth billions of dollars have been made with little results to show forth.
“Despite significant investment in the health system, we are yet to see commensurate results in terms of outcomes. Current programmes are inadequate and we need to do things differently, we need to be more innovative and rethink our intervention. We have had issues with data and complex governance arrangements”, Muntaqi stated.
“Some other African countries such as Morocco, Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan have been able to achieve zero malaria deaths. Why can’t Nigeria be put towards that part of zero malaria”, he expressed concern.
In achieving a zero count on malaria, these experts highlighted continuous advocacy as the key.
“The first step is prevention through the distribution of mosquito treated nets. Also, a continuous advocacy against malaria, we must win the war against malaria and maintain a zero malaria rate in Nigeria” Ojo Roland said.
According to Muntaqi, a working strategy can be adopted which includes, “Empower people of underserved communities on how to take care of themselves in terms of malaria prevention, make sure coverage is increased for bed-net utilization, stimulate the production of insecticide treated net to reduce death toll of complicated cases”.
With the world hoping for an era where malaria will totally be eradicated these experts say they owe it on themselves to let the public know about malaria and the adverse effect, with reference to recorded cases