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Experts Seek Diagnosis For Malaria Before Treatment

By Christian Okpara and Gbenga Akinfenwa
04 July 2015   |   3:19 am
DETERMINED to ensure that malaria reporting remains a topical and relevant health issue as it affects Nigerians, Malaria No More held a Malaria Free Nigeria-Media Round Table (MRT) recently to ensure that malaria issues are clearly reported.

MalariaDETERMINED to ensure that malaria reporting remains a topical and relevant health issue as it affects Nigerians, Malaria No More held a Malaria Free Nigeria-Media Round Table (MRT) recently to ensure that malaria issues are clearly reported.

The event, held in Lagos, had diverse group of journalists, and was a follow-up on the group’s success on the capacity building workshop held in 2014 to further deepen its engagement in the fight against malaria.

Through the various segments of the event, presentations from health experts like Dr Wellington Oyibo, a World Health Organization (WHO) malaria expert in Nigeria; Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI); National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) Federal Ministry of Health and the organisers, coupled with the round-table discussions, the recent breakthroughs in the fight against malaria was unveiled.

The Country Director of Malaria No More, Dayo Oluwole, informed media practitioners that eliminating malaria requires multi- interventions, hence the need for communication, a factor that would lead to behavioural change for a critical success.   She disclosed that the media is a critical stakeholder in the national strategic plan to move from control to elimination, adding that malaria needs sustained media attention because the menace is hydra-headed.

Oluwole stated that malaria is generally categorised as a health issue, but has far-reaching impact across many sectors. She noted that malaria affects health, sports, economy and education among other sectors.   “Every year, malaria is said to cost Africa $132 billion-a figure that factors in costs of healthcare, absenteeism, days lost in education, decreased productivity due to brain damage from cerebral malaria, and loss of investments and tourism.

“Rural and poor populations carry the overwhelming burden of malaria because access to effective treatment is extremely limited. In rural areas, infection rates are highest during the rainy season-a time of intense agricultural activity,” she said. In his paper: “Attaining malaria pre-elimination phase in Nigeria: strategies and way forward”, Oyibo lamented that malaria is still a public health disease in Nigeria with a whooping sum of N132 billion lost due to the scourge in the country.

Oyibo said such loses has to stop.“Our mission is to provide equitable, comprehensive, cost effective, efficient and quality malaria control services by ensuring transparency, accountability, client satisfaction, community ownership and partnership. We also have the goal of reducing malaria burden to pre-elimination levels and bring malaria-related mortality to zero,”Oyibo said.

He stated that part of its national strategic plan is to ensure that all persons with malaria seen in private, public health facilities, receive prompt treatment with an effective anti-malarial drug by 2020; promoting use and availability of antimalaria medicines (ACTs); delivery of malaria management through the community; strengthening of secondary and tertiary level health facilities to treat and manage severe malaria, while the community level intervention will focus in pre-referral treatment and improved referral systems.

One of the challenges of the fight against the scourge, according to him, is the continuous use of chloroquine, sulphadoxine pyremethamine, and other monotherapies, unequipped secondary and tertiary hospitals to handle likely emergencies from severe malaria, among others. “Our key recommendations is that every suspected malaria case should be confirmed by Microsoft or RDT prior to treatment.

All diagnostic tools must be quality-assured across all levels of the health system, and scale-up of malaria diagnostic testing should be integrated with efforts to improve the management of other febrile illnesses.

“After diagnostic confirmation, every uncomplicated case of P. falciparum malaria should be treated with a quality-assured ACT and that every severe case of P. falciparum malaria should be treated with intravenous or intramuscular artesunate, followed by a full course of an ACT, among other recommendations,” he stated.

While speaking on malaria implementation progress in the last one year, National Coordinator of NMEP, Dr Nnenna Ezeigwe, said malaria has created serious burden, which has constitute high levels of school absenteeism, low productivity and pressure on state and local government capacity.   Said she: “N480 billion is lost annually due to malaria absenteeism and treatment costs. 46 per cent of all curative health costs and redirecting of finances from health maintenance.”