Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw, has revealed her malaria myth growing up as a teenage girl, saying she grew up thinking that “malaria is caused by standing in the sun, eating oily meals, witchcraft, working for too long, bad water and bad air”.
The actress is currently leading a campaign for the 80 per cent elimination of malaria in Nigeria in 2020.
Henshaw related her malaria story in a speech presented at the National Malaria Elimination Programme, organised by Society for Family Health in Lagos on Thursday.
She said ignorance and misinformation were the primary causes of loss of lives due to malaria.
“In those days people spoke about malaria as if it belonged to them – with expressions like ‘I have malaria,’ ‘my malaria’ and ‘ordinary malaria.’ Surprisingly, after many years, these terms are still common place among family members, colleagues, and friends, irrespective of class or level of education,” she said.
“I have committed myself to support the fight against malaria in Nigeria by letting people know the benefits of sleeping inside the Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets, especially for children under five years and pregnant women. It is also very important to have a Rapid Diagnostic Test done or microscopy done to be sure it is malaria before administering treatment with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy – (ACT).”
“Nigerians should know that not all fevers are malaria; let Nigerians know that people are dying from malaria when malaria is a preventable and treatable illness; let Nigerians know that testing using RDT to confirm malaria before treatment is the way to go. The best medicine for malaria treatment is Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies – what we know as (ACTs). It is very affordable and accessible.”
Meanwhile, statistical data by The Society for Family Health reveal that malaria accounts for 11 per cent of maternal mortality; that three in ten deaths of children less than five years old are caused by malaria and malaria causes absenteeism in schools, offices and markets with effects on the economy.