Malaria is no doubt a burden on both the financial and human resources of endemic
countries. Statistics from World Malaria Report 2020 reveal that three million deaths are attributed to malaria annually, of which one- third are children, while morbidity estimates run close to 650 million just for Africa.
In most countries across the world, malaria has indeed led to the loss of manpower for many organisations, students being unable to keep up with their studies and out of school for days, while families have a hard time adjusting to the changing roles when the head of the household is down with malaria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that malaria is transmitted through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes. According to the WHO, the intensity of transmission depends on factors related to the parasite, the vector, the human host, and the environment.
However, statistics by Severe Malaria Observatory in October 2020 show that malaria is transmitted in 76 per cent of the population in Nigeria who reside in high transmission areas, while 24 per cent of the population live in low transmission areas.
Reacting to this, the Officer in Charge (OiC), Koroduma Primary Health Care Centre, One Man Village, Nasarawa State, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Christiana Yamawo, noted that malaria seems to be on the increase in the community, due to lack of drainage and proper sanitation. Yamawo urged residents who feel unwell to get diagnosed and treated quickly. She asserted that most people fully recover if they treat malaria early.
Addressing the scourge
To help address the scourge, the Voice of Impact Global Ministry in partnership with Save Your Liver Foundation of Nigeria diagnosed and treated about 400 residents of One-Man Village during a one-day free medical outreach organised in the community. The duo is making efforts to roll back malaria and ensure that nobody dies from this life-threatening disease in the community.
In this locality, many women especially the pregnant ones have had to deal with the harsh reality of taking care of their family if the head of the family (husband) feels unwell due to malaria. However, these non-governmental organisations have a mission to roll back malaria by enlightening the residents of the suburb on how to keep their surroundings clean, and also administering drugs to sick persons.
They believe that if a growing number of countries are approaching and achieving malaria elimination, Nigeria can. ‘’Malaria is a major cause of absenteeism in places of worship, workplaces, schools, offices, and markets, thereby significantly and negatively affecting the economic growth of the country. We at Voice of Impact Global Ministry are determined to achieve this. We believe zero malaria is possible, with greater commitment, investment, and innovation we will get there,” said the Presiding Pastor, Voice of Impact Global Ministry, Emmanuel Odugbo.
As part of efforts to roll back malaria in the suburb, the NGO treated malaria-positive persons and organised a health talk to enlighten the residents about malaria. They believe that community-based, education-led healthcare is the best way to enable people to take charge of their own health.
During the outreach, a quick diagnostic test which only takes 15 minutes was conducted on the spot by members of the outreach team. Anyone who tested positive for the malaria parasite, received medication immediately. This, according to the organisations, is essential in diagnosing members of the communities that may be
difficult to follow up with due to topography and access to information.
While waiting for the test results, the team also used the time to spread awareness on the symptoms and dangers of malaria, and how community members can protect themselves by using mosquito nets, long sleeves, and mosquito repellents, particularly when sleeping outside. In addition, they donated long-lasting treated nets.
The team also shared informative materials with them and encouraged them to share these with their friends and families to help raise awareness on the dangers of malaria.
The medical outreach team was led by a senior medical laboratory scientist, working with the Federal Ministry of Health, Owoya Samuel; Dr. Gabriel Adipke, and Samuel Obekpa who work with the Nyanya General hospital Abuja and other volunteers from the NGOs who were all seen attending to patients throughout the day.
The medical outreach according to Odugbo was aimed at combating the menace of malaria in the community, he noted that many residents did not know how deadly malaria can be especially during pregnancy.
A beneficiary of the outreach, Mrs Asabe Danjuma, said the enlightenment has taught them how to use mosquito nets properly and the need for them to keep their environment clean. “We are very grateful for the enlightenment and the treatment. We now understand how dangerous malaria can be especially for pregnant women.
“We have also learnt how to use mosquito nets properly and the need for us to keep our environments clean,” she stated.
Another beneficiary of the outreach, Mrs Musa Susan, lauded the initiative and stressed that the test and treatment have helped to alleviate sufferings which are always compounded by the lack of money to go to the hospital to seek good medical care.
Susan said she has been feeling unwell for some weeks and has been treating herself with local herbs without results before the intervention of the NGO. “My husband is a labourer; he returns home sometimes without earning from his day job. He is caring but doesn’t have the financial means to cater to all our needs. Now that I feel better, I can support him,’’ she said.
Another beneficiary, Sunday Danladi, lauded the non- governmental organisation for the free medical treatment. ‘’I could not afford to go to the hospital. I have been drinking some local herbs which tend to give me temporary relief. I am fine now and I remain grateful,’’ he said.
However, despite the efforts of the two organisations at addressing and alleviating the plights of residents who were mostly pregnant women and children as they were 70 per cent of the attendees, funding remains an issue for them. They stressed the need for governments at all levels to collaborate more with the NGOs to make suburbs in the country and rural communities a better place for dwellers.
However, amidst efforts by the foundation, data from Koroduma Primary Health Care Centre (PHC) showed that in May 2021 when the community outreach programme was held, cases of malaria in the community dropped to 204 cases from 245 cases recorded in April. The cases minimally increased from the next month to 207 patients. However, the cases of malaria continued to skyrocket as the PHC recorded 425 in July, and 513 in August 2021.
The report from Koroduma PHC indicates that without funding for effective treatment, malaria mortality could double over the next month, and transmission will intensify if sensitization is not enhanced.
This story is with support of the Solutions Journalism Network and Nigeria Health Watch.