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World Malaria Day-Time to invest, innovate, implement

Malaria is a life-threatening disease spread to humans by some types of mosquitoes. It is mostly found in tropical countries, and it is preventable and curable.  

The mild symptoms are fever, chills and headache, while severe symptoms include fatigue, confusion, seizures, and difficulty breathing. Infants, children under 5 years, pregnant women, travellers and people with HIV or AIDS are at higher risk of severe infection.  

Malaria is one of the endemic diseases that is common in Nigeria and other African countries. According to world malaria report, there were 247 million cases of malaria in 2021 compared to 245 million cases in 2020. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 619, 000 in 2021 compared to 625, 000 in 2020.  

The World Malaria Day is commemorated every 25th of April by World Health Organization, WHO. The annual event is a global effort, to raise awareness of Malaria and funds for the treatment and prevention of the disease.  

The day is also to highlight the need for better political intervention in malaria control and prevention as well as the continuing great achievements in the fight against Malaria. 

This year’s theme, “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement”, underscores the urgent global desire and determination to use diverse means to bring this century-long battle to a conclusive end.  

The fight against malaria has been a long-drawn battle, with diverse results. At the dawn of this century, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals pushed forward a renewed effort towards the fight against malaria.  

This effort culminated in several campaigns aimed at fighting the disease as well as a renewed political will and determination. In November 2018, the W.H.O. and Roll Back Malaria Partnership to End Malaria launched the high burden to high impact country led approach as a mechanism to support the 11 highest burden countries to get back on track to achieve the 2025 milestones through galvanizing political will, mobilizing resources and community responses.  

Since 2015, the baseline date for WHO’s global malaria strategy, 24 countries have registered increases in malaria deaths.  In the eleven countries that carry the highest burden of malaria worldwide, cases increased from 150 million in 2015 to 163 million cases in 2020, and malaria deaths increased from 390, 000 to 444, 600 at the same period.   

In general, mosquitoes have a short lifespan of about four weeks and breed in blocked gutters, refuse heaps, blocked drains, stagnant water, pools, barks of water-bearing plants such as plantains, bananas, coconuts and surrounding bushes.  

Malaria Prevention

Thus, it is safe to describe malaria as a typical filth-borne disease and that water is to mosquito-breeding what air is to life. In recognition of this simple fact, all efforts made towards fighting malaria in Nigeria in the past, usually began with the quest for the control of the existence of mosquitoes by ensuring that the conditions that led to their multiplication did not exist at all. 

Despite these efforts, malaria has continued to constitute a global health challenge with Nigeria having the world’s highest malaria burden. To get back on track, WHO and its partners recognized the need to ensure better and more equitable access to all health services by strengthening primary health care and stepping up both domestic and international investments.  

It is therefore pertinent to posit that the most effective way of containing the multiplying cases of malaria in Nigeria in particular and in other areas of the world, must begin with the control of the factors that lead to the incidence of malaria – the mosquitoes.  

And the best way to do this is to put in place policies to ensure that the physical environment is kept clean always through removal of all overgrown weeds, destruction and removal of all objects capable of holding water to deny mosquito’s stagnant water they need to lay their eggs and breed, sleeping under mosquito treated nets among others.   

This will ensure that Nigerians and the entire nation remain free from the scourge that is called malaria fever.

Writing by Nehemiah Anini of our Current Affairs Unit; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu