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Reducing malaria deaths in Nigeria

By Paul Adunwoke
02 April 2021   |   4:16 am
With recent statistics showing a significant rise in malaria mortality, health experts have said without urgent action taken to address the global public health challenge...

With recent statistics showing a significant rise in malaria mortality, health experts have said without urgent action taken to address the global public health challenge, there would be more deaths recorded in Nigeria.

According to World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Malaria Report, an estimated 229 million cases of malaria with 409,000 deaths were recorded globally in 2020.

The world apex health agency further estimated that Nigeria recorded 60 million cases with 95,418 deaths.

In a move to tackle the burden of malaria in Nigeria, St. Rachel’s Pharma has launched an antimalarial drug to help strengthen malaria intervention, reduce mortality as well as improve the life expectancy of Nigerians in the rural and urban areas of the country.

Disclosing this at the third anniversary of the pharmaceutical firm and the launch of its antimalarial brand, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of St. Rachel’s Pharma, Akinjide Adeosun, said the mortality rate from malaria is fast rising, especially with the diversion of attention to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said in line with the vision of the firm towards improving life expectancy by providing top quality and affordable pharmaceuticals in Africa, the firm developed the Artemether Lumefantrine antimalarial drug to help Nigeria eliminate malaria.

“Focus on malaria is being neglected in Nigeria and the world at large. We have taken it upon ourselves to increase the awareness of the dangers of malaria. It is my considered opinion that malaria can be eradicated in Nigeria just like Paraguay, Argentina, Algeria, Mauritius, Lesotho, Seychelles and El-Salvador.

“We are formally launching our antimalarial drug in Nigeria. This is our contribution on waging war against malaria, thereby reducing the menace of high morbidity and mortality of this treatable and neglected disease,” he said.

Adeosun further called on President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors to allocate a minimum of 20 percent of their 2022 budgets for health in order to boost malaria intervention.

The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Special Assistant on Health, Dr. Babajide Ajayi, said malaria remains a global threat, as it accounts for 40 percent of people who visit the hospital.

Sanwo-Olu who spoke on the economic burden of malaria in Nigeria, further stated that with 50 percent of Nigerians having malaria once in every year, a significant amount of money goes into treatment of the ailment.

He, however, commended the pharmaceutical company for its contribution towards reducing the burden of malaria in the country with its newly launched antimalarial drug.

Speaking earlier on the theme of the event, “Malaria in the times of COVID-19 – A forgotten disease,” the guest speaker, Consultant Medical Parasitologist, ANDI Centre of Excellence for Malaria Diagnosis, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof. Wellington Oyibo pointed that malaria morbidity and mortality has remained high over the years.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic restricted the fight against malaria in over 80 countries globally, as responses towards malaria services were disrupted following the restrictions placed by the pandemic.

He warned that neglect of malaria intervention in COVID-19 pandemic would escalate the malaria situation.

Oyibo noted that critical attention is required to address the situation, warning that uncomplicated malaria cases could progress quickly to complicated, thereby becoming fatal to Nigerians.

He said, while severe malaria-related death is traumatic as COVID-19, children die early when supportive management are not accessible.

“Malaria is preventable and treatable, while access to quality-assured commodities such as diagnosis, medicines, and long lasting insecticide nets among others, should be accelerated,” he said.

The professor who commended the St Rachel’s antimalarial drug, further called on total commitment towards malaria prevention, adding that prompt treatment with effective and quality-assured recommended medicines such as Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is vital in the total elimination of malaria in Nigeria.

He also called on increased political will towards malaria elimination, while urging the government to increase funding at all levels.

Oyibo further called for strong coordination of strategic partnership for effective response such as strengthening health system and supporting local manufacturers of malaria commodities.