Malaria is a life threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria is preventable and curable but it is cheaper and better prevented. Most death occurs among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute of malaria. Malaria mortality rates among children in Africa have been reduced by an estimated 58% since year 2000.
The intensity of transmission depends on factors related to the parasite, the vector which is the mosquito, the human host and the environment.
Around the world, malaria is the most significant parasitic disease of humans and claims the lives of more children worldwide than any other infectious diseases. Since 1900, the area of the world exposed to malaria has been halved, yet 2billion more people are presently exposed.
World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2014, that there were 198millions cases of malaria worldwide in 2013 with an estimated death of 584 thousand. It is much more prevalent in sub Sahara Africa than in other regions of the world. WHO estimates, there were about 219 million cases of malaria in 2010 and an estimated 660 000 deaths. Children (< 5 years and pregnant women are high-risked groups). A child is said to die every 30 seconds in Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of malaria. Malaria remains the most important cause of mortality and morbidity in Africa.
140 million Nigerians are at risk of having malaria while 80 – 90% of the population is likely to have an episode of malaria in a year. Malaria accounts for over 70% of hospital visitations.
The above scary epidemiological data shows that malaria is a very important disease that must be taken serious by all. It is not as ‘’ordinary’’ as it is called by some people. A disease that is capable of causing the death of children in less than one minute deserves the attention of all and shouldn’t be seen to be an ‘’ordinary malaria’’.
The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) Kogi State branch therefore join in commemorating this year’s World Malaria Day with the theme ‘’ zero malaria begins with me’’.
In the first instance it is necessary to state that several efforts have been put in place by governments at all levels including significant supports from international donor agencies in building capacities for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of malaria through the National Malaria Elimination Programmes (NMEP) in the Federal Ministry of Health. Despite these efforts, malaria still pose a serious challenge as reflected in the lack of reduction in prevalence over the years.
In advanced countries currently, preventive medicine which invariably can favour zero malaria is becoming the order of the day. And that is why there are countries today that are certified malaria free by WHO. This means that attention needs to be more focused on preventive measures and approaches if we want a malaria free environment. This is to say that for zero malaria to begin with me/us, we must begin to take good care of our environments which is the only way to discourage the breeding of mosquitoes that serve as vectors for the malaria parasites. Government need to initiate programmes that will emphasize on prevention of malaria infection and not just curative approaches because the fact is that the number of persons seeking health care services in Nigeria are so much that it becomes too tasking for the low level of manpower available. And even in some cases especially in the rural population the required expertise for proper laboratory diagnosis and treatment may not be available thereby leaving the rural dwellants to suffer ill health that may be caused by malaria.
It is not only ‘’change’’ that should begin with us now as a country. But malaria eradication must begin with all of us because it takes one to be alive before he or she can talk of changing his or her attitudes. In preventing and controlling malaria infection therefore, it is pertinent to note the following:
– The culture of frequent environmental sanitation that is lost must be revitalized and enforced by Government through the Environmental Health Practitioners.
– Formidable infrastructures that are capable of eradicating gutters with stagnant waters that serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes must be developed.
– There should be dedicated and absolute regulation and monitoring of the environment via comprehensive environmental management that is capable of removing all sorts of breeding sites for mosquitoes. For instance, empty sachet water nylons, tins, old unused tyres and other containers that are found deposited indiscriminately in the environment are all breeding sites for mosquitoes.
– Wide continuous distribution of long lasting insecticide nets (LLINs) to all households.
– Identification of infected individuals and eventual treatment to prevent further spread of the malaria parasites from one individual to another.
– Sustenance of program such as malaria External Quality Assessment EQA by all states of the federation which is a system that guides laboratory diagnostic procedure for malaria resulting in generation of results that are, accurate and precise, and reproducible.
Conclusively, the AMLSN-KOGI State wish to utilize this opportunity to also appeal to His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello to use his good office to employ more Medical Laboratory Scientists into the service of Kogi State as the number we presently have is not sufficient to guarantee adequate, effective and efficient medical laboratory services across the state.
Remember, zero malaria starts with you and me.
– Sct. Aaron Ayodele
Chairman, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, Kogi State Branch.