Malaria infection still high in Nsukka despite control measures — Experts

CONTROL measures put in place over decades in Nsukka, a southeastern university town, may not be reflecting a decline in malaria over a 3-year period in the community, a study has said.

In the study, the researcher found that malaria incidence was still high despite the effects made at reducing the scourge of the disease and blood samples examined showing 87.25 per cent had different amounts of malaria-causing organisms in them.

The researcher had examined data on 9,531 individuals with malaria in some selected health care facilities to ascertaining whether the control measures put in place over decades were being reflected in the decline of the disease over a three-year period. Collected data included patient demography, number of attendees, and levels of malaria parasite.

This was contained in the December 2020 edition of the Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice.

In the study, three health care providing facilities were selected in which all malaria clinic attendees in each cluster (hospital) were included. Two of the selected health care providers offered free consultation services to patients but none of them offered free treatment to these patients. Non-Nsukka residents were excluded from the study.

They found a difference in the number of male and female malaria clinic attendees that were significant and examined blood samples showed 87.25 per cent were positive with malaria-causing (Plasmodium falciparum) parasites and at various levels.

In addition, most (43.47%) of the patients were in the age group of 21 to 30 and the least malaria clinic attendance was by children of one year and below as well as adults above the age of 60 years. The malaria parasite levels were also seen to be higher in the blood samples of this same group (21–30) but least encountered in babies less than a year and the elderly above age 50.

There were also negative Plasmodium parasites blood samples with mean scores of 67, 92.63, and 353 for years 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. These were patients presented at malaria clinics with symptoms of malaria but with negative malaria test results.

According to the researchers, “Thus, 87.2 per cent of encountered malaria cases for the three years period of observation as seen in the present study further highlight the fact that despite decades of efforts at controlling the disease, malaria still remains uncontrolled in the region of this investigation.”

They declared that although the level of education played a role in susceptibility to preventable diseases, there might, however, be an urgent need to look at issues related to social status rather than education on malaria control in this community

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