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Nigeria recently celebrated its third year without recording a new Polio case – a very commendable feat given our very peculiar environment. Unfortunately, the country has not conquered the fourth leading cause of death in Africa – Malaria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that beyond being the fourth leading cause of death in Africa just behind Diarrhea, Respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS, Malaria and the costs of treatment trap families in a cycle of illness, suffering and poverty.
According to the global health institution, in 2016, fifteen countries accounted for 80 per cent of all malaria cases globally. Unfortunately, Nigeria had the undesirable privilege of accounting for the highest proportion globally – 27 per cent.
The simple proof of this can be seen in most offices where there is always news of someone absent from work due to malaria or a child missing from class due to the same reason.
Just recently, while at work a few weeks ago, a colleague received a distress call – he has just lost one of his close friends, a young promising lady with the dream of heading one of the leading multinational companies in the country. At that point, she was one of the managers in the company, and yes, Rachael died of malaria.
About 97 per cent of Nigerians is at risk of malaria. The US embassy reports that only 3% Nigerians live on the malaria-free highland, which is the population that does not get infected yearly.
The good news is that Malaria is both preventable and treatable. There were 20 million fewer malaria cases in 2017 than in 2010 due to the introduction of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) to combat the disease worldwide.
However, with this commendable action to curb the spread of the viral infection also came the issue of substandard and falsified drugs, which have caused its fair share of damage by accounting for some percentage of death.
As part of efforts to tame this scourge, WHO recommends “Intermittent Preventive Treatment in pregnancy” (IPTp) with the antimalarial drug; sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for women in moderate and high transmission areas in Africa.
There is a need for all stakeholders to step up their effort in curbing this menace right from prevention, treatment to control. Of course, the most effective way of preventing malaria is to sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, spraying indoor walls with insecticides, keep your surroundings clean and free of stagnant water.
In the case, an individual is down with the symptoms and needs to treat him or herself, the first step is to get tested, then get the requisite drug from a recognized and registered pharmacy. If you doubt the standard or authenticity of any drug handover to you at a pharmacy, you can request for their license to ensure they are an authorized outlet. With all hands on deck, we can replicate the polio success story against this deadly disease.

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