By Royal Ibeh, Lagos
Lagos State reports more than 700,000 malaria cases annually, with the disease accounting for more than 70 per cent of outpatient in the public health facilities, the state’s commissioner for health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said.
Abayomi said 657,154 patients with malaria were seen in both private and public health facilities in 2020 in the state, while adding that malaria is prevalent in the vulnerable groups, like children under 5 years and pregnant women, where the infection can be profoundly more severe.
The commissioner spoke on Sunday on the occasion of the World Malaria Day celebrated annually on April 25.
Abayomi noted that the topography and ecological features of Lagos State, the vast coastal terrain, rapid urbanisation and poor drainages are major predisposing factors that contribute to transmission of malaria all year round.
To tackle the issues, he revealed that the state government has demonstrated continued commitment to the control of malaria through promotion of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) utilisation and prevention of malaria in pregnancy using Intermittent Preventive Treatment with Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine.
“Other activities by the state government are prompt diagnosis in public health facilities using malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (mRDT) kits or microscopy, effective case management with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy drugs (ACTs) for patients diagnosed with malaria.
“Awareness and sensitization activities on malaria, procurement and supply of antimalarial drugs and commodities to the state health facilities and health system strengthening and operational research,” he added.
While there have been remarkable reduction in the cases of malaria in the state, the commissioner said the burden was still high as over 700,000 persons are diagnosed with the disease annually.
He, however, called on residents to ensure that they sleep inside the LLINS and pregnant women to take Sulphadoxine Pyimethamine to prevent malaria in pregnancy from 2nd trimester.
“Before using Artemisinin based Combination Therapy (ACTs) for treatment of fever, diagnosis either using malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (mRDT) kit or a microscope must be done. This is also very important at this time as people infected with SARS–CoV–2 virus which causes COVID–19 manifest symptoms like malaria. The distinction between malaria and COVID–19 is made only after proper diagnosis using appropriate test kits.
“Thus, testing for malaria is essential as it helps to reduce unnecessary use of antimalarial drugs thereby preventing the emergence and spread of drug resistance and to ensure that antimalarial drugs are reserved for those suffering from the disease. It is also imperative that all malaria cases diagnosed are recorded in the appropriate data tools to ensure that all cases of malaria in the State are duly reported,” he added.
He also placed emphasis on environmental management, which includes effective refuse disposal and waste management, covering of water storage containers, clearing of gutters, dredging of canals and channels, among others, adding that unkempt and dirty environment serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, hence proper maintenance and management of the environment would prevent mosquitoes from breeding.