Declared in May 2007 during the 60th session of the World Health Assembly -WHO’s decision-making body- world Malaria Day (WMD) is commemorated worldwide on April 25th every year to focus global efforts to control and the possible eradication of Malaria. Prior
to this, Africa Malaria Day was held on that same day since 2001, one year after the Abuja Declaration was signed by 44 malaria-endemic countries at the African Summit on Malaria.
The theme for 2016 WMD is “End Malaria For Good”. Indeed!
Malaria is caused by the female anopheles mosquito through plasmodium parasite. People with malaria often experience fevers, chills, and flu-like illness and, if left untreated, they may develop severe complications and lead to death.
A real quick facts check shows improvement in the quest to defeat the deadly virus in which in 2015 there were only 214 million cases, and 438 000 deaths from Malaria compared to the estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children in 2012 with majority of the deaths occurring in just two countries -Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Also, according to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) – Invector Control IVCC, there was a 15% reduction in the malaria cases worldwide over the past 15 years just as the world witnessed a 60% percent drop in malaria death over the past 15 years.
This has ofcause been achieved due to deliberate efforts over these years by various non-governmental organisations (NGOs), initiatives by governments, local and international health organisations. For example, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative supports four scientifically proven key interventions to prevent and treat malaria. These are the promotion of insecticide-treated mosquito nets; indoor residual spraying; intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women; and effective diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
But there is still the need for more efforts if at all the World Health Organisation (WHO) target to reduce malaria cases by 90% and completely eradicate the deadly disease in 35 more countries by the year 2030 is to be meet.
According to Malaria Consortium in Nigeria, Malaria is
the leading cause of child death in the country and
around 250,000 Nigerian children die every year from
the disease. While children under the age of five and
pregnant women are particularly vulnerable, almost the
entire population of Nigeria is at risk of contracting the
Also over these years, the state and federal governments in Nigeria have through different initiatives and approaches helped in combating the disease.
A lot of factors militating against the fight with malaria in Nigeria, including poverty, lack of adequate well trained personnel, lack of or inadequate research funding and fake or counterfeit anti-malaria drugs circulating.
It is the wish of this writer that the new administration which is about to clock a year in office in Nigeria at state and federal levels should double their effort and re-energise to combat malaria head-on through committed efforts right from budget on health to research and personnel training and supporting NGOs with similar aim in order to meet the target.
Mustapha Saddiq is a Certified Medical Laboratory Scientist from Katsina.