Increasing case of malaria infection globally, scary —Expert

Director, Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training, University of Ibadan, Professor Catherine Falade, has said that an increasing case of malaria infection in the world is scary despite the availability of effective medicines.

Professor Falade spoke at the June 2019 Continue Medical Education edition of the Nigerian Medical Association, Oyo State branch, titled “War Against a Deadly Foe: How dependable is Malaria Chemotherapy.”

Falade, a professor of pharmacology, said no new malaria medication had been brought to the market since 1990, though deaths from the disease are on the rise.

She said “more scaring was the emergence of Artemisinin resistance in South East Asia. It sounds so far, but this is an era of globalisation; so it is not far at all.”

The don, who said monkeys are also reservoirs for human malaria, however, said only infective bites of Anopheles mosquito lead to malaria.

She declared that malaria can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplantation and from mother to child through the placenta.

Falade said the goal of malaria treatment is the elimination of the malaria parasite in the blood stream and not the resolution of the symptoms of the disease.

The expert said at least 25 per cent of children with malaria a national survey found were still being treated with chloroquine, an ineffective antimalaria drug, and urged medical experts to desist from doing so.

“As far back as 1985, we showed chloroquine failure. By 2003, it has risen phenomenally, the patient feels better because they don’t have aches and pains, but they still carry malaria parasites. So it is important that we treat right,” she declared.

Professor Falade said malaria has no typical signs and symptoms and as such all malaria diagnosis must be parasite based in all cases.

According to her, when diagnosis of malaria is parasite-based rather than presumptive, it improves patient care, avoids unnecessary antimalarial intake and reduces adverse effect of the antimalarial drug and its wastage as well as a selection pressure for drug resistance.

She stated: “In a series of children that died from pneumonia, a very high proportion had received antimalarial therapy, not because the antimalarial therapy killed them, but because the use of antimalarial therapy delayed the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. So diagnosing malaria without any laboratory test is at best a malpractice.”

Professor Falade declared that malaria treatment in Nigeria is faced with such challenges as substandard or fake ACT, high cost of antimalarial drugs, treatment failure and limited range of drugs for treating malaria.