Ogun and elimination of malaria in Nigeria
Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito-borne blood disease caused by a plasmodium parasite. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquitoes, called malaria vectors and once an infected mosquito bites humans, the parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells. Meanwhile, Malaria is considered as major health challenge that hinders the development of countries, especially those in Africa, where over a million lives, including expectant mothers and children under the age of 0-5 years are affected. Mindful that the disease remains one of the biggest challenges and which causes 11 per cent of maternal mortality in Nigeria, the Federal Government and key stakeholders are making serious efforts to ensure that the rate at which the disease spreads is reduced to the barest minimum.
Though, a report tagged, Malaria: Its Human Impact, Challenges, and Control Strategies in Nigeria, by Arese Carrington, described malaria as one of the most serious health problems facing the world today. According to the report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 300 million new cases of malaria arise, with approximately two to three million deaths resulting from contraction, Malaria is endemic in tropical Africa, with an estimated 90 per cent of the total malaria incidence and deaths occurring there, particularly among pregnant women and children. Specifically, malaria is causing various problems in Nigeria. Malaria is the only vector-borne disease to be placed on the World Health Organisation’s Disability Adjusted Life Years list.
It is imperative to look at health problems like malaria that grossly affects the morbidity and mortality rates, as well as the economy of a developing country, such as Nigeria. Nigeria has a population of about 180 million people. A large percentage of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty in rural areas, without access to potable water and adequate health care. Though, the report noted that Nigeria, a low-income country, saddled with huge foreign debt burden, risked sinking further into debt as it struggles with a sick populace whose good health is essential for its economic growth.
Malaria is caused by four different protozoa in the plasmodium genus: either Plasmodium Vivax, which is more prevalent in low endemic areas, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malaria, and the Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four. The Plasmodium falciparum has a life cycle in the mosquito vector and also in the human host. The anopheles gambiae mosquito is the vector responsible for the transmission of malaria. The prevalence of malaria is dependent on the abundance of the female anopheles species, the propensity of the mosquito bite, its longevity and the rate of development of the plasmodium parasite inside the mosquito, and when the mosquito bites and sucks the blood of a person infected with malaria parasites, she becomes infected; she then transmits the parasites to the next human host she bites.
Malaria incubates in the human host for about eight to ten days. The spread of malaria needs condition favourable to the survival of the mosquito and the plasmodium parasite. Temperatures of approximately 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of at least 60 percent are most conducive for the mosquito. The development of the malaria parasite inside the mosquito is more rapid as the temperature rises and ceases entirely below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a bid to curb the spread of the disease, the Federal government and various International organisation have stepped up advocacies to ensure people are adequately sensitised to preventive measure and how to get treated if affected. One of the measures through which the spread of malaria can be curbed is the use of Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (LLINs).
This year, Ogun State government, through the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with a number of Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), that include Global Fund, implementation Agency Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the National Elimination Programme, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Society for Family Health, embarked on the replacement of LLIN campaign across the three (3) Senatorial Districts of the state in furtherance of the 3.3 million nets to be distributed in 2018 alone.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, revealed that, in April this year, the team, which comprised officials of the various organisation and the state government envisaged 3.3 million as the population expected to benefit from the programme.
He said the team CSR toured the entire state with a mandate to distribute for the population about 3.3 million nets as part of its mandate.
Apart from the Micro-Planning, sensitization and advocacy programme, the team visited the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Traditional Rulers, Traders, the Media and other relevant stakeholders to persuade them to key into the initiative, spread the advantages of LLINs and create more awareness on the exercise.
Meanwhile, on April 27th, this year, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, presided over the inauguration of the LLINs Replacement Campaign Distribution. At the ceremony, Amosun underscored the importance of the nets as protective guards against mosquito bites. He promised to restore healthy living apart from dredging water canals that enhance mosquito breeds. He also supported the all-round sensitisation initiative to ensure compliance and adherence to the campaign.
Also, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Mr. Karl Lowe, said the seriousness of malaria menace in Nigeria was reflected in the increasing deaths among children and pregnant women. Lowe, however, added that the efforts by CRS, with support from Global Fund, was yielding results as incidence of malaria dropped from 42 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2015, noted that the reduction served as the encouragement for the international donor, Global Fund, to approve the distribution of over 3.3 million LLINs across the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas of Ogun State.
After the distribution, some independent monitors moved round Ogun state from May 7 to 12, to assess the level of compliance with the campaign, households was visited to know the challenges encountered during the drying, hanging and use of the nets. During the end-process as it was called, residents were assisted to hang the nets and get re-orientated on the need to sleep under/inside the nets at bedtime to safeguard them from mosquito bites.
Orunbon, public affairs analyst, wrote in from Abeokuta, Ogun State.
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