Malaria: resistance to current therapy gives growing concern, says Scientist

AN Ambassador of the Medical Laboratory Science Profession, Amb. Odinaka Obeta has said that malaria resistance to current therapies was now a growing concern.

Obeta, who is also the National Project Coordinator of the Block Malaria Project (BMP), and also in Nigeria, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Saturday in Abuja.

He said that the global health authorities have placed a high priority on developing new strategies for the control and elimination of the malaria parasites.

He noted that although current antimalarial treatments were effective, malaria still causes a considerable number of deaths each year and as such was the world’s fastest-growing vector-borne disease.

Obeta explained that developing new classes of drugs that would not only treat the disease or prevent its patient-to-patient spread but also combat the consistently modifying resistant strains of the parasite would be an important step toward the goal of eradication.

“Plasmodium the parasite transmitting malaria is known to have five different species which affects humans.

“Out of these five, Plasmodium-falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, which are the most prevalent in Nigeria are the two which pose the most treat.

“These species are known to have resistant strains, which aide rapid modification upon encounter with antimalarial drugs, and hence resistance, this occurs when people abuse anti malaria drugs and don’t complete their dosage amongst other factors.

“Also, those who indulge in self-medication without visiting a certified medical diagnostic laboratory for proper clinical laboratory investigation to know if they have the plasmodium parasite in them or even be sure of which species of the parasite is present in their body.

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“When you treat malaria without knowing the specie or the quantity of parasite available in the body, you end up not having the right prescription for the complete dosage of drugs required to eradicate the parasite from your system.

“However, this is common with most patients around here as people neglect their drugs once they start feeling better.

”Not completing your dosage affords this parasite the opportunity to understand the mechanism of action of the drug and also modify itself to become untouchable by such drug.

“Subsequently, you’ll discover that when using this same drug you’ve previously abused, it suddenly becomes ineffective to the parasite.

“Hence, why we keep having new brands and types of antimalarial drugs in the market every day to help deal with these modifying strains” he explained.

He, however, advised Nigerians to ensure they get tested before any form of treatment were administered to them because by detecting what exactly was wrong with the system, the right prescription could be made by the doctor for effective treatment.

Obeta also encouraged the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and keeping clean environments void of stagnant water, uncut grasses, dirty plates and cloths as a good means of keeping the vector away from their homes.

He advised against self-medication, adding that it kills.

In his words, ”Drugs are poisons and when it is not helping you it definitely causes harm to other sensitive parts of the body, which might not be visible now but later in life.

“Get tested to know the disease before administering treatment,” he advised.

The ambassador also called on the Federal Government to see the need to encourage researchers, medical laboratory scientists amongst other health practitioners in the area of capacity building and skill development.

He stressed the need to be updated with the latest technology as it concerns combating malaria and also developing strategies for its effective control.

Speaking on the BMP, he said it is a national malaria intervention initiative launched in Jos, Plateau, Nigeria in the year 2018.

He also said that the community and public health development project is geared towards enhancing the level of sensitisation on malaria, which he said was one of the most endemic diseases affecting Sub-Saharan Africa, this time with the 36 states of Nigeria in focus.

According to him, the project employs the preventive approach towards control and eradication of the vector transmitting malaria and targets low-income communities where sanitation is a big issue and malaria cases are high.

“The cycle will continue until a mosquito-free Nigeria is achieved from one state to the other.”

Obeta said that each year, BMP adopts a beneficiary low-income community using a competitive selection process.

“In 2018, it was angwan rukuba community in Jos North LGA of Plateau.

“In 2019, it was Jenta Mangoro community still in Plateau. By the year 2020, we are extending the project to Borno, Gombe and subsequently to other States across the federation.

He said that the BMP goal is to achieve the SDG 3 (Good Health and Well Being), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the goals) in every community visited.

Obeta said that the project is made possible through the generous support from donor partners and hundreds of young and dedicated volunteers across the country, who were passionate about ending malaria in Nigeria.

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