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PSN urges FG to encourage local production of malaria drugs

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President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa


*Calls for research into plants with both anti-parasite, insect-repellent ability
To ensure availability, quality and affordability of malaria drugs, pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have urged the Federal Government to encourage the local manufacture of anti-malaria medications.President PSN, Sam Ohuabunwa, in a statement ahead of the World Malaria Day (WMD), today, April 25, 2019, said there are presently some plants and herbs around, which have shown both anti-malaria activity and insect repellent ability.

The pharmacist said government should sponsor research through her agencies like the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and the Pharmacy schools towards developing these herbal remedies. Ohuabunwa said: “The malaria-vaccine RTSs developed by GSK and approved by WHO in 2015 presently undergoing evaluation in about seven African countries for public health impact may become one of the vaccines for routine immunization. The country should begin to prepare to leverage on this to save our children.

“There is need to re-organise our immunization programme to include the use of community pharmacies which is a huge healthcare resource presently under utilized.“The convenience of walking into a pharmacy and getting your vaccine will improve compliance and improve overall healthcare outcome.”He said PSN is ever ready to partner with the government, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partners and other agencies to end malaria.

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The theme of the WMD is “Zero Malaria Starts With Me.”More than 10 years ago, different approaches were employed in the fight against malaria and steady advances were recorded.But according to the WHO reports, since 2015, not much has been achieved in the progress of the gains of the past years, thus the need for urgent action to get the world back on track to end Malaria.

Co-founder Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gate said, “I believe it is not only possible to eradicate malaria. I believe it is necessary. Ultimately, the cost of controlling it endlessly is not sustainable. The only way to stop this disease is to end it forever.”Ohuabunwa said the theme for this year’s world malaria day has come to terms with this thinking hence the need for grassroot mobilisation of the most affected countries.

According to WHO records, in 2017, about 219 million people were infected in 87 countries and an estimated 435,000 deaths. 92 per cent of the cases were in Africa (61 per cent children) and 93 per cent of the recorded deaths occurred in Africa.Five countries accounted for nearly 50 per cent of all malaria cases, four in Africa, namely Nigeria (25 per cent), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (11 per cent), Mozambique (five per cent), Uganda (four per cent) and India (four per cent).
Malaria affects all, but children under five, pregnant women and immune compromised persons are at greater risks.

The PSN President added: “2018 picture is similar to those above hence the urgency to do things differently.“On this World Malaria Day, the PSN joins the rest of the world in promoting the theme ‘Zero Malaria starts with me.’ It has became absolutely necessary to take this campaign to grassroots to create the necessary awareness needed and to mobilise all available resources at the disposal of the people to enable them own the move to end malaria.”He warned that malaria is one of the already existing problems that global warming may have a significant impact on, and every day living has huge consequence on this great world challenge.

Also, the pharmacist said, the dwindling world economy and recession is a healthy dose of reality fuelling the sense of urgency to let the people own the fight against malaria.

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Ohuabunwa said malaria is a life threatening disease caused by plasmodium parasite transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female anopheles mosquitoes. He said about five parasites species cause malaria in humans. The greatest threat is posed by two of these species namely P. falciparium and P. vivax. Plasmodium falciparium accounted for 99.7 per cent of all malaria cases in WHO Africa.He said prevention of transmission remains the best way for eradication of malaria through the use of LLINs (Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets) and indoor insecticide spraying.

Ohuabunwa said where prevention fails; chemotherapy remains the mainstay of malaria treatment. “Chemotherapy could be preventive or curative.
Examples of Preventive remedies include; Sulfadoxine / Pyrimethamine, Amodiaquine, doxycycline, proguanil to mention but a few, though WHO malaria treatment protocol supports the use of sulfadoxine/ Pyrimethamine, in preventive approach on pregnant mothers, after the first trimester (three doses) and children, on their basic immunisation days,” he said.The PSN President said the Society joins the rest of the world to say ‘end malaria now’ by empowering the people and communities to own the programs of total eradication.chemotherapy remains the mainstay of malaria treatment then the indispensable role of the pharmacists can never be over emphasized.

“The practice of pharmacy in Nigeria today has left the traditional pedestrian and now integrative. Integrative pharmacy performs the traditional role of pharmacists, which is dispensing and recommending tablets and syrups, to alternative medicines and remedies, nutriceuticals, herbal preparations and nutrition. The Nigeria health consuming public must be empowered with choices to drive the zero malaria mantra.“The PSN will continue to provide the Government with information that will connect the dots towards drugs and medicines security. As Bill Gate opined in the statement above, sustaining malaria programs that are recurrent in expenditure is not practicable hence the need to end it.”

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PSNSam Ohuabunwa
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