There’s significant reduction in malaria menace in Nigeria – MSN President
The malaria Society of Nigeria (MSN) took the campaign against the disease to a rural riverine community of Badagry, Lagos State, as part of its activities to commemorate the 2017 World Malaria Day. NHO Correspondent Juliet Umeh who covered the two-day event spoke to Dr. John Babajide Puddicombe, the MSN President about the exercise and the malaria situation in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Considering Nigeria’s filthy environment where mosquitoes thrive, do you think we can ever eradicate malaria as being canvassed?
We all know how mosquitoes breed, we know the life cycle of mosquito, they breed in stagnant water the only thing is to keep away stagnant water from our community and environment talking about environmental management. Apart from that, we encourage people to sleep in long lasting mosquito treated net. Some people collect treated nets and use it as fishing net because they don’t know. So we are teaching people that they are to sleep under the net. So this is part of the awareness we are creating. We are giving these people net and we are demonstrating to them how to use and sleep under it.
Again, when they have malaria, they should treat it properly once they have fever and other signs and symptoms of malaria they should go to the hospital. Prompt diagnosis will prevent complications arising from malaria.
In your opinion, will you say both the government and the people are playing their roles well towards malaria eradication?
Government has been playing a significant role in malaria; that explains why in almost every local government area in this country there is a malaria unit and there’s a roll back malaria manager. These managers enlighten their community on the havocs of malaria and with all these efforts by government over the years, in the last 10 years we’ve had significant reduction in the menace of malaria, in the death resulting from malaria in Nigeria, check the records, in the last 10years there has been a decline in the havocs. So we’ve had significant drops in deaths resulting from malaria because efforts of the governments are yielding results.
For individuals, we teach them to keep their environment clean, remove anything that can contain water stagnant in which mosquito can breed and then sleep under treated nets which we have brought to give them free of charge and per chance if they still have malaria they should go ahead and get treated and we are treating with Artemisnine combination therapy which is very effective.
What do you think will be the most effective tool to eradicate malaria in Nigeria?
Well for now we are not talking of total eradication, we are talking of reducing the menace to the barest minimal that’s what we are doing; create an awareness. Some people don’t even know what causes malaria to start with, people need to know what causes malaria, it is when they know that they will now do something to prevent it.
There’s this reported problem of resistance to Artemisinin in Asian country, are we doing anything to guard against that in Nigeria?
Resistance may have to do with faking of the drugs but now we don’t have that in Nigeria, so let us limit our orientation to what we have now since we don’t have resistance to Artemisinin in Nigeria like some people have gone ahead to fake ACT so why won’t there be drug resistance but we don’t have that because we have agencies of government that are making sure that drugs that are going into public for sale are genuine. The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, (NAFDAC) is there for you, that is their job and they are doing that.
Is that all we have to do to guard against resistance in Nigeria?
It is one of the preventive options. Other options include taking your drug in full dosage. You see, you are supposed to take a drug for three days and you take it for one day, you feel better and you stop taking it of course the chances of resistance are high. People are advised to complete their treatment; so with the complete dosage you form resistance to parasites we have around.
What informed your decision to take the World Malaria Day campaign to Badagy?
We brought it not just to Badagry but to the rural riverine village in Badagry called Tohon. Over the years, we have done our programmes and many other groups have done theirs in so many urban centers but we all know that the menace of malaria is higher in the rural areas especially the riverine areas compared with urban centers. That’s why we feel they need this awareness programme much more than the people in the urban and over the years, nobody goes to the rural and riverine areas. We hope we will get more result and people will be complying more than we have in the cities.
What has been your challenge in getting the people to be aware of malaria prevention?
We were here a week ago on advocacy visit to see the people in authority in this area that we are coming today. So we started the awareness programme even last week and today, we have gone round five communities in this area, sensitizing and inviting them. That explains the great number you are seeing today. At the end of the day, everybody that takes part in this programme will get a net; those who test positive will be treated with ACT free of charge and given routine drugs for everybody.
The good thing is that we have not limited this to malaria alone; the woman you see here is a known hypertensive case. So we are treating for hypertension and diabetes malaise but our primary focus is malaria but people will come with other challenges and we will not send them away, we will carry them along.