As the world marked World Malaria Day, the United States (US), yesterday, said an estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year make Nigeria the country with the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, who made the remark at the occasion to commemorate World Malaria Day/World Intellectual Property Day in Abuja, attributed the high rate of death by malaria to the widespread of fake and substandard medicines.
“Despite so many gains in malaria prevention and treatment, the widespread prevalence of counterfeit, substandard medicines is contributing to the alarmingly high number of malaria deaths and costs of health care in Nigeria. An estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year make Nigeria the country with the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide.
“According to the Nigerian National Malaria Strategic Plan 2014-2020, malaria is responsible for 60 percent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 percent of childhood deaths, 25 percent of deaths in children under one year, and 11 percent of maternal deaths,” he said.
He said as part of the effort to checkmate the menace, the US government, through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced the launch of “Make a Difference” hotline and reward programme that will offer up to $10,000 (approximately two million naira) for information concerning the illegal distribution of stolen and falsified anti-malaria medication in Nigeria.
“The announcement came as the world health community marked World Malaria Day and World Intellectual Property Day,” he said.
He said that the abundance of fake malaria medicines threatens the progress being made to control the disease.
“Stolen malaria medicines often transported or stored in sub-optimal conditions decay and become ineffective, putting patients at risk for treatment. Parasites, a by-product of this decay, cause malaria, potentially mutate, and grow resistant to the drug. Also, the production of counterfeit medicines takes money away from legitimate businesses and discourages growth in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry, with a corresponding loss of goods and investment in the sector,” Entwistle noted.
He said “globally, illicit proceeds from the sale of stolen or falsified anti-malaria medicine total more than $60 million a year.
In the interim, the Chief Medical Director of University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Professor Etete Peters has called on all Nigerians to always ensure accurate diagnosis of the disease before embarking on treatment.
Peters who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday on the occasion of this year’s World Malaria Day with the theme ‘’ Invest In The Future; Defeat Malaria’’ said that accurate and precise diagnosis of malaria would significantly improve the quality of care given to patient.
He called on the residents to embrace the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLITNs), apart from maintaining a healthy environment and hygienic practices, to guard against the breeding of mosquitoes, which are responsible for the scourge.
While appealing to the people to ensure that anti-malaria medicines are used rationally and correctly he advised that people should to stop assuming that all feverish conditions were malaria.
The Chief Medical Director explained that the use of LLINs remains one of the most effective malaria vector control methods available to date in the fight against malaria as it acts as a physical barrier and prevents mosquitos from gaining access to individuals sleeping under it.
According to him, “the present Roll Back Malaria (RBM) strategies employed by government at all levels in the country represent a multi-pronged approach including environmental management and integrated vector control, appropriate diagnosis and treatment of malaria cases, prevention of malaria in pregnancy and operational research, while using its results for evidenced based programming”.
He therefore urged the people to take appropriate actions through what he called attitudinal Change in order to help the sustenance of the gains made so far in the malaria eradication efforts of the states, Federal government and donor agencies.