Malaria: Paediatrician harps on personal hygiene

DR Kunle Otuneye, a Consultant Paediatrician at the National Hospital, Abuja, on Thursday advised Nigerians to maintain personal hygiene to curb malaria as the rainy season sets in.

Otuneye gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja ahead of this year’s World Malaria Day with the theme “End Malaria for Good”.

According to him, environmental hygiene which includes discarding stagnant water was effective in preventing the breeding of mosquitoes.

“Malaria is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in childhood and pregnant women.

“Malaria is endemic throughout the tropics, including Nigeria. It is, fortunately, an entirely preventable and treatable mosquito-borne illness.

“Malaria is a major public health problem in Nigeria where it accounts for more cases and deaths than any other country in the world,’’ he said.

Otuneye said in 2013, global estimates show that an estimated 453,000 children died before their fifth birthday due to malaria, more than 95 per cent of whom are African children.

He said usual symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, sweats, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

“Severe clinical features such as cerebral malaria, low-blood-sugar-level, anaemia, liver or kidney failure occur mostly in children, pregnant women and those who are non-immuned in the environment,’’ he said.

Otuneye said prevention of malaria was possible through the use of insecticide treated nets for children less than five years of age and pregnant women.

He also said the continuous use of residual insecticides and topical repellent at home prevent malaria.

“Early recognition of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment with artemisinin combination therapy as well as intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women are preventive measures.

“Ideally, availability and use of malaria vaccines, which is in the pipeline, will be a welcomed addition to the fight against malaria,’’ Otuneye said.

However, he advised Nigerians to avoid self-medication in the treatment of malaria and other illnesses as it could be dangerous to their health.

The World Malaria Day (WMD) is an international observance commemorated every year on April 25.

WMD is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.

This year’s global theme for World Malaria Day is ‘End Malaria for Good’.

In the lead-up to April 25, WHO is shining a spotlight on prevention, a critical strategy for reducing the toll of a disease that continues to kill more than 400, 000 people annually.

Since 2000, malaria prevention has played an important role in reducing cases and deaths, primarily through the scale up of insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying with insecticides.

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