BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, ROYAL IBEH |
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day, the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) has called for improved vector control to avert the estimated $1billion loss due to malaria-related absenteeism and production losses annually.
AHAPN president, Kingsley Amibor, made the call on Monday, at a virtual meeting to mark World Malaria Day, themed ‘Zero Malaria – Draw The Line Against Malaria’.
He said vector control remains the main way to prevent and reduce contact between mosquitoes and humans by providing both a physical barrier and an insecticidal effect.
“For instance, in 2019, an estimated 46 per cent of all people at risk of malaria in Africa were protected by Insecticide Treated Net, compared to two per cent in 2000.
“Indoor residual spraying with insecticides is also an effective way to rapidly reduce malaria transmission. However, there has been a decline from a peak of five per cent in 2010 to two per cent in 2019 in several regions, which may be attributed to possible resistance to parathyroid insecticides,” Amibor said.
As part of preventive measures, he said antimalarial medicines, which suppress the blood stage of malaria infections thereby preventing malaria disease, can be used, adding that pregnant women living in moderate to high transmission areas are expected to take at least three doses of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) with sulphadoxime-pyrimethamine.
Speaking further on how to prevent malaria infection, Amibor advised Nigerians to do away with stagnant water around their houses and dwelling places to avoid breeding ground for the mosquito parasites.
According to him, Nigeria has been identified as one of the 11 countries that carry a high burden of the disease, and as such, an aggressive new approach to jump-start progress against malaria has become inevitable.
“A high burden to high impact response model is advocated. The features include a call upon the government to demonstrate the political will to reduce the toll of malaria, need for strategic information to drive impact, better guidance, policies and strategies and a coordinated national malaria response,” he said.
A Professor of Pharmacy in the University of Benin, Ehijie Enato, urged pharmacists to unleash their strength and remove any self-limiting barriers to achieve their full potential, adding that everyone is looking for a Pharmacist to solve health and developmental problems.
According to him, strategies for a malaria free world are built on three pillars which are to ensure universal access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment, accelerate efforts towards elimination and attainment of malaria free status and transform malaria surveillance into core intervention.
He regretted that Nigeria’s National Malaria Strategic Plan 2014-2020-To reduce the burden of the disease to pre-elimination level and bring malaria-related mortality to zero has come and gone yet the country has not actually achieved these goals.
However, the dean, faculty of pharmacy, Delta State University, Dr David Adje, said the country has been able to make significant progress as malaria has drastically reduced from what it was some decades ago.
He identified aggressive control targeted at the population at risk, massive investment and funding from the World Bank and domestic funding, large scale deployment of tools and transparency in funds disbursements as reasons for the achievement.
He stressed the need to sustain gains of interventions, accelerate research and development of new tools for diagnosis, prevention and treatment., saying, “We can research into the next generation of drugs, Malaria Vaccines, field tests to detect low level of parasitemia, we can also enhance community surveillance, we also need to discourage self-care treatment and we need to gradually reduce our dependency on international or donor funding.”