Director, Centre for Malaria Care, University of Ilorin, Professor Olugbenga Mokuolu has asked that people refrain from saying “ordinary malaria”, saying the disease was being trivialised even though it is often fatal and can lead to death.
Mokuolu, a paediatrician, spoke during a dinner with media health editors in Lagos with the theme “Media health Editors as Advocates to Malaria Elimination in Nigeria.” It was organised by Society For Family Health (SFH).
The expert stated that malaria is a killer disease and that it ought to be recognised as such by all individuals.
According to him, “A condition that kills cannot be addressed as ordinary. The way you dress up a condition is the way you will address it. It should be recognised as a killer disease.
“That an adult living in an area where malaria is endemic will not have severe malaria should not make us reduce our appreciation of the severity of malaria particularly among children who are not previously protected.”
Mokuolu, who stated that the germ, plasmodium falciparum accounts for about 98 per cent of all malaria cases, said that a third of global deaths from malaria still occur in Nigeria.
However, he declared that remarkable progress has been achieved in reducing malaria cases and deaths, stating “burden of malaria in University of Ilorin has reduced significantly from 33 per cent to seven per cent of admissions in our emergency paediatric clinic and deaths from 36 per cent to six per cent now.”
He, however, cautioned that fever, the chief symptom of malaria was not limited to the disease and as such malaria must be confirmed by a test before any treatment is proffered.
According to him, the fight against malaria in Africa also requires multiple approaches, adding that there is hope that malaria can also be eliminated in Africa very soon.
In achieving malaria control, he declared that the gap in funding has to be met to ensure that malaria interventions are for all and can reach all.
According to him, “we see a scenario in which the malaria programme for complete comprehensive interventions requires something in the excess of the 250 million to 300 million US dollars.”
Managing Director, SFH, Mr Bright Ekeremadu urged for media collaboration to ensure a reduction in malaria burden to pre-elimination levels and to bring malaria related deaths to zero by 2020
Ekeremadu, reiterating the need for media to equip itself with right and correct information of malaria, said that in the last five years, over 54million long lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN) have been distributed in Nigeria as part of the universal LLIN campaigns to protect 29million households as well as access to free and or highly subsidised Artemisin-based Combination therapies.
He, however, stated that huge information gap and appropriate knowledge about diagnosis, treatment and prevention of malaria still exist in the country, hence the need for continuous engagement of mass communication practitioners.