191 Million Nigerians At Risk Of Malaria

By Prudence Ijah, Abuja

The 2018 World Malaria Report by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of malaria cases has risen from 52.4 million in 2016 to 53.7 million cases in 2017. According to the report, 191 million Nigerians are estimated to be at risk of the disease. 

The World Malaria report 2017 and 2018 have shown that global progress against malaria had stalled as the world is off track to meet the milestones for 2020 as reflected in the Global technical strategy for malaria 2016-2030. 

The report added that to get back on track, towards achieving a reduction in morbidity and mortality before 2025, a response is required to change the trend in countries that are off track especially in the eleven highest burden countries which Nigeria is included. 

Against this background, the national coordinator of Nigeria’s National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) Dr Audu Mohammed have advocated for the prevention of Malaria through environmental management. 

“Environmental management seeks to reduce the abundance of all mosquitoes as well as targeted malaria vector species”, Mohammed said.

According to him, a key principle in environmental management is the need for individuals to maintain environmental sanitation around where they live and work, as adopting sanitation measures will reduce the breeding of mosquitoes and help to prevent Malaria. 

Head, Integrated Vector Management (IVM) of the NMEP Okolo Oyale said the vision for a Malaria free Nigeria led to the adoption of the integrated vector management while the interventions being implemented for Malaria prevention in Nigeria are, the use of long last insecticidal nets (LLINs), Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), Larval Source Management (Larviciding and Environmental management) and personal protective measures such as the use of repellants, house-screening and durable linings.

“Larval source management (LSM) comprises of Larviciding and environmental management. Larval source management is the management of aquatic water bodies that can serve as potential breeding sites for mosquitoes” Oyale said. 

According to him, Nigerians needs to make changes to their environment as a periodic routine and the changes includes routine environmental sanitation, elimination of breeding sides, clearing of weeds around homes, proper management of domestic and industrial waste, periodic evacuation of drains, puncturing of cans and plastics before disposal and removal of unused tyres and other water receptacles amongst others. 

On the barriers to effective environmental management, Oyale hinted that poor political will, individual unhealthy attitude and practice, socioeconomic status, lack of enabling laws, lack of enforcement of available regulations, lack of consciousness for health living and poor orientation pose as major hindrances. 

 Oyale called on the media to advocate for government at all levels to invest in environmental management in the area of road and drainage construction, proper management of domestic waste and periodic evacuation of drains. 

Malaria is a parasitic and infectious disease transmitted through the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquitoes during a blood meal. Malaria is endemic in Nigeria and it constitutes a major public health problem. 

The risk factors of Malaria are categorized into four major groups which are; host factors which are age, pregnancy status and location of residence, socioeconomic factors which are poverty, sanitation, housing, occupation and education, environmental factors which includes relative humidity, rainfall and temperature and genetic factors which includes hemoglobin and sickle cell trait. 

Nigerians have been urged to embrace proper environmental management and to sleep inside the long lasting insecticidal nets every night to prevent themselves from Mosquitoes which can cause Malaria.

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