Itele Community ravaged by malaria in search of succour
“Four days ago, a 28-year- old was attacked with malaria, unfortunately, it killed him, many pregnant women have also passed away due to this disease.” This was the bitter account of Oba Mufutau Kasali of Itele Community in Ijebu East Local Government Area, Ogun State.
Recently, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2019 World Malaria Day. The Malaria Society of Nigeria (MSN) in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) took the fight against the disease to Itele community.
The groups offered free medical checkups and treatments, including anti-Malaria drugs and mosquito nets to the rural community dwellers.
Oba Kasali hinted that it was the first time such gesture would be extended to the community that boast of over 7,000 dwellers excluding those that were not eligible to vote or registered in the last general election.
He urged the government to adequately equip the community’s health centre to a standard hospital, to enhance healthcare service delivery.
“We have only one Health Centre and it is not functioning well. We urge the government to bring in at least one permanent resident doctor. Our people regularly suffer from malaria and this is because we are near swampy area and thick forest.
“This is the first time such a development is brought to our community and I am very happy with it because malaria has really caused a lot of havoc in this community, we live in a swampy area. In fact, just few days ago, one of my subjects, Uzo Okechukwu lost his life after battling with a chronic malaria infection. There are other records of those who almost lost their lives from malaria. This is why I ensured every member of this community partake in this medical checkups.”
President, MSN, Dr. John Puddicombe underscored the need to combat the menace of malaria, especially at the grassroots.
“Villages need more sensitization and help in combating malaria, that is why over the years we take our programmes to the grass root and that is why we are here. Nigeria needs to do much more in fighting the parasite.
“We all witness what happened in the last election, the government went to the nooks and crannies of the country for campaign, if we can also take such efforts to the grassroots on the awareness of being healthy, and it would go a long way in bringing down the number of people dying of malaria in the country.
“There are other things that the government can do, such as regular power supply, we are distributing nets now but sleeping under these nets cause people to sweat profusely and because of this, people don’t use it. But if there is electricity and the fans are working they will use it. So, we need the government to improve in the power supply of the country. We also want underground drainage system, that way; the breathing site for mosquitoes will drastically reduce.”
A beneficiary who identified herself as Mrs Chidinma Obidike described the exercise as the best thing that has happened to the community at a time the people were facing a lot of hardship.
Also, a technician, Mr. Babatunde Raimi, who is in his mid 50s, commended the exercise, saying, “Since I was born, this exercise had never taken place. It is only politicians, who usually come here to deceive us. They will not give us anything that would benefit us. After they must have exhausted us they would ask for our voters’ card. This is not good at all.”
Sponsor of the campaign, MD F and F Furniture, Mr. Banjo Onamusi hinted that he was motivated because of his passion to give back to the society.
“My belief is that it is always good to give back to the community. This is not about myself or people like me but the masses. I’m not a politician so this is not politically motivated but caring for the welfare of the people should be a priority to anyone that is blessed. I see this as a privilege.”
According to him, “the government should try and look at the grassroots, they should not concentrate their efforts on the capital cities, they should come down this way and see where people are really feeling the pinch of malaria.”
Speaking on the rate of malaria and the extent to which it has be eradicated in Nigeria, the resident doctor NIMR, Dr. Aina said: “We still have a very long way to go to get to zero level in malaria infection in Nigeria. There are three levels to eradicate malaria; control level, elimination level and eradication level. But Nigeria is still in the control level. To improve things, concentration should be more in the rural areas as the ailment is more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.”
However, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said the Federal Government was committed to ending the scourge of malaria.
Adewole, at a press briefing to mark the World Malaria Day in Abuja, said this year’s campaign was aimed at drawing significant attention to the need to completely eradicate the malaria scourge in the country.