October 26, 2020

Promoting good health

Malaria Still World’s Greatest Killer Disease

                                         By Victor Anya

Despite the active and huge attentions being given to the malaria disease, it remains one of the deadly diseases across the globe. Year in and year out, countless numbers of people across the world die due to malaria. Malaria which is transferred to human beings by the anopheles mosquito is responsible for multitude of deaths yearly. According the World Health Organization, about 3.2 billion people are exposed to contracting malaria while over one million people die yearly. Children under the age five years are the worst hit by the malaria parasite. About 90 percent of malaria cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since Ronald Ross discovered the anopheles mosquito as the carrier of the malaria parasite which causes malaria in human beings, mosquito has remained a great threat to the health of humanity.

 According to the World Health Organization, African region has six countries with the highest cases of malaria which include: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Cote d’Voire. The negative effects of malaria on the African Continent is enormous as about $12 billion is lost yearly to the disease due to Africans staying away from their means of livelihoods as a result of malaria illness and treatment. The huge negative effects of malaria on the African Continent are owing to unhygienic environment caused by large scale poverty. The anopheles mosquitoes which transmit the malaria parasite to humanity breed in dirty and stagnant bodies of water and waste management is on the low side in many African countries.

To confront the malaria disease frontally, various interventions have been put in place worldwide. The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) was established in 1998 by the World Health Organization as part of a global drive to galvanize stronger action to curb malaria. Through the Roll Back Malaria programme and the promotion of anti-malaria campaigns, over 6 million deaths of children under five years in Sub-Sahara Africa were averted. Working in conjunction with the World Health Organization’s Global Technical Strategy for malaria 2016-2030; a new programme to prevent the spread of malaria in countries that are highly plagued by the disease was set up.

On the African Continent, to reduce the travail of malaria and malaria related cases in Africa, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) was formed in 1999. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a body of 49 African countries with the goal of ending preventable malaria deaths by 2015 to encourage African leaders towards meeting the 2030 World Health Organization (WHO) Malaria Global Technical Strategy (GTS). The Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. It provides a comprehensive framework to guide countries in their efforts to accelerate progress towards the elimination of malaria.

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance drew up an evaluation parameter known as the ALMA score sheet for Accountability and Action which monitors the progress and promotes actions on malaria prevention, control and elimination. Participating countries are chosen by an independent committee of experts in health, academia and the private sector. With the establishment of ALMA, from 2000 backward, malaria deaths reduced drastically by 60 percent but deaths attributable to malaria rose in many African countries from 2016 upwards. This relapse, according to the Prime Minister of Swaziland, Dr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, “When we take our eyes off malaria, the cost for our countries is huge. Yet if we increase our efforts to control and eventually eliminate malaria, the yield we get from it is tremendous. It is time that we dig deep into our pockets and provide malaria programmes with the needed resources.”

Every year, humongous sums of money are budgeted and spent to combat malaria yet the malady still persists. This is why concerted efforts are being directed at the malaria disease. In 2016 alone, spending on malaria gulped US$3.1 billion, out of the sum of US$6.6 billion budgeted by the World Health Organization. In 2017 another sum of US$3.1 billion was also spent to control the disease. Likewise, in 2018, about US$2.7 billion was invested into the control and possibly eliminate malaria globally by governments and partners of countries plagued by malaria.

Nigeria has also played a vital role in order to overcome the malaria disease. The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo keyed into the Roll Back Malaria with lots of publicity and campaigns; these campaigns created massive awareness about the negative effects of the malaria disease. With this programme in place, mosquito treated nets and anti-malaria drugs were distributed to some Nigerians. The US government via its Presidential Malaria Initiative donated 2.6 million bed nets to Nigeria worth $490 million since 2011. Also, the Initiative provided another sum of $4.6 million for logistics-including transportation and community mobilization. Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases in Nigeria, killing an estimated 107,000 people in 2016 alone. These huge sums of money spent in combating malarial have yielded some positive results. 

Apart from the World Health Organization initiatives and interventions of countries plagued by the malaria disease, individuals have also joined the war against malaria torment. Recently, a fresh effort has been given to contain the malaria disease as the Chairman, Ned Nwoko Foundation, Prince Ned Nwoko via his foundation has endowed the sum of $750,000 to ensure the eradication of malaria in Africa through fumigation and research in five universities. Thus, each of the universities would receive the sum of $150,000 to conduct research for malaria vaccine. He also believed that fumigation in Africa would help in combating malaria on the continent. While declaring his endowment to combat the malaria blight, he said, “Malaria is majorly African problem. If you understand that, then you will comprehend why there is concerted effort to find a permanent cure to it…There is no family in Nigeria that has not lost some loved relatives.” Prince Ned Nwoke made the endowment before he departed in Cape Town on Sunday January 5, 2020 for an expedition to the Antartica as the first African to visit that continent.

The devastation associated with the malaria disease has compelled the world to give much attention to the disease. This is why there are many interventions such as the Roll Back Malaria, Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, the Presidential Malaria Initiative, African Leaders Malaria Alliance programmes and the recent endowed $750,000 for fumigation and research by the Ned Nwoko Foundation-all geared towards finding lasting solutions to the harmful effects of malaria. The World Health Organization and diverse intervention agencies have initiated projects to prevent and combat the malaria menace.

To complement the efforts of the various interventions put in place globally, to overcome the malaria hazard, it is advisable that all citizens of the world should make themselves available for malaria test so as to ascertain the cause of their ailment at the appropriate time and proper medication taken. Whenever the results of their tests indicate malaria, they should go for proper medication instead of avoiding treatment or engaging in self-medication. Malaria remains a deadly disease and must be accorded the desired attention so as to reduce its scourge across the globe.

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