Anti-malaria battle: Experts, NMA bemoan lack of commitment

Anti-malaria battle: Experts, NMA bemoan lack of commitment

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Nigeria, as we all know, is a country where malaria is a common disease, which most people don’t even bother to test themselves for or see a doctor to get the appropriate treatment and medication. Many sufferers of the disease engage in self-medication, resulting in large number of casualties and avoidable deaths recorded as a result of the disease.
Given the current situation about the treatment of the disease, medical experts have argued that Nigeria has no plan of becoming a malaria-free state for now.
Interestingly, Sri Lanka, a developing country like Nigeria, was declared malaria-free on September 6, 2016 by the World Health Organisation during the 69thsession of its Regional Committee for South-East Asia Region.
Looking at the total expenditure on health per capita for Nigeria and Sri Lanka in 2014, according to WHO, there was no wide gap on the amount of money both countries spent on health. Nigeria’s total expenditure on health (Int. $, 2014) was 217 while Sri Lanka’s total expenditure on health per capita (Int. $, 2014) was 369.
Statistics from WHO last year estimated that there was 214 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2015 (range 149–303 million). The African Region accounted for 88% of global cases of malaria, followed by the South-East Asian Region (10%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%).
WHO In 2015, also estimated 438, 000 malaria deaths (range 236 000–635 000) worldwide and 90% of the deaths occurred in the African Region, followed by the South-East Asia Region (7%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%).
In April 2015, during the World Malaria Day, the United States estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year in Nigeria, thereby making Nigeria the country with the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide.
Although WHO indicated that between year 2000 and 2015, malaria incidence rates (new malaria cases) fell by 37% globally, and by 42% in Africa, malaria mortality rates fell by 60% globally and by 66% in the African Region.
Children under five are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 306,000 under-fives globally, including 292,000 children in the African Region. Between 2000 and 2015, the mortality rate among children under five fell by 65% worldwide and by 71% in Africa.
Records show that from over 400,000 cases of malaria in Sri Lanka in 1991, the disease has been reduced to zero in October 2012 and since then the country has not had a single death from malaria since 2007.
Sri Lanka invested in healthcare infrastructure, funding from Government administrations and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria was critical to sustaining the efforts.
In 2011, the Global Fund awarded the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health a grant of $15.5 million to substantially improve public health infrastructure, which aided malaria elimination efforts.
Similarly, India has already set itself on a similar path towards malaria elimination. With 70 per cent of the region’s malaria burden, the country will play a critical role in the regional and global efforts to end malaria.
But contrary is the case with Nigeria regarding efforts aimed at tackling the incidence of malaria.
The Deputy Secretary General of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Adewunmi Alayaki said that both the government and individuals had no plan to make Nigeria malaria-free.
Alayaki said that the country lacked policies or plans aimed at eradicating malaria because there was nothing indicating that such strategies existed.
He bemoaned the inability of the government to allocate funds for the antimalaria campaign and set aside a two or 5-year plan to eradicate malaria in 2020, for example, as well as invest in educating the people on what to do.
Making reference to polio, which the country failed to totally eradicate, despite the huge funds expended on the campaign, the NMA deputy secretary general said it was unfortunate that the killer disease resurfaced after the country relented.
Alayaki concluded that the malaria campaign might just be another way of breeding corruption in the country because the allocation for the malaria campaign could be diverted by people in charge of the fund.
“The political will is not there and the citizens, too, are not passionate about it and we all know that the vector for malaria is mosquito and in terms of orientation, we are not there, following the norms, we are not there,” he added.
Similarly, a gynecologist, Dr. Lanre Ekujumi, said that it was impossible for Nigeria to attain a malaria-free society now due to the prevailing system.
Ekujumi added that the level of dirt and filth in Nigeria encouraged the breeding of mosquitoes.
“All the habit that make malaria to strive we have all of them in abundance and the poverty level in the country is so high,” he said.
He described malaria programmes organised in Nigeria as a waste of fund, adding that the country needed to evolve a system that would ensure the free-flow of all drainages and take other preventive measures.
“Nigerians must also have attitudinal change towards taking care of our environment; that is when we can stand a chance of eradicating malaria,” Ekujumi said.

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