Malaria Kills 207k Nigerians Annually

…173m Nigerians are at risk of contacting infection

By Mohammed Mohammed

The Minister of Environment, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, on Monday quoted the WHO as saying that nearly 173 million Nigerians are at risk of being infected with malaria.

He acknowledged that Nigeria has the world’s highest malaria burden with an annual reported cases of 55 million and 207,000 deaths representing nearly 30% of the total infection burden.

The Minister who spoke at the World Mosquitoes Day, during the weekend, said the alarming situation brings along with it the economo consequences by infecting adults, absence from School on the part of infected school children.

According to him, it is estimated that Nigerians lose money running into hundreds of billon naira wherein every infected person treats just a bout of malaria infection with an average of two thousand naira twice every year.

Several efforts, he said are being made internationally, nationally and locally to combat the malaria scourge, adding that only recently, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Nigeria End Malaria Council (NEMC) where he mandated it to ensure successful implementation of the Council’s programme that should translate into N2 trillion savings from the estimated economic burden of the disease by 2030.

Abdullahi, added that the Ministry is solidly behind the President in achieving the onerous target set for the NEMC which is quite achievable with the right implementation of strategies utilizing collaboration and partnership, adding that the decision for Nigeria to establish the NEMC is indeed laudable on account of the importance the African Union attaches to it.

The Minister, said: “The inauguration of the NEMC coming barely five days to the World Mosquito Day is testament to the fact that the killer Arthropod is the Centre of attraction as Case management of Malaria has proven to be less effective in the control of the hyper endemic disease. Similarly, although control of the adult mosquito bite through the use of Insecticide-Treated (Mosquito) Nets is posting some gains, attaining the desired impact is not near and is unfortunately not too reliable, a strategy.

“It remains critical that hierarchically, effective Mosquito control takes the form of exclusion-removal of suitable vector habitat through sound hygiene and sanitation which stops breeding by preventing egg laying. life cycle control larviciding, to reduce/eliminate egg hatching; and oiling & adulticiding which is used for controlling pupacy and adulthood respectively.

“By nature, mosquito requires filthy, dirty and unkept environment to survive and reproduce undergoing metamorphosis – a four-staged development process involving egg, larva, pupa and adult that takes anywhere between a minimum of four days to a maximum of four weeks depending on the mosquito species, environmental conditions like temperature, moisture and of course degree of filthiness and water retention potential of the holding habitat.

“The advantage of mosquito life cycle control through environmental sanitation and physical attack is that in addition to malaria control, it also helps in tackling the menace of diseases such as yellow fever which is caused by Aedes mosquito species and encephalitis caused by virus-bearing culex species. Furthermore, the capabilities of harbouring not only parasites like plasmodium in the case of Malaria, make mosquitoes more dreadful. For instance, they can be intermediate host for filariasis, yellow fever and dengue fever.

“Though not of origin in Nigeria, Zika Virus, Dengue fever, West Nile fever and Rift valley fever may bea threat to Nigerian public health given the nature of human mobility Malaria was transported to the Americas by the enslaved Africans the set.

“This can further be seen from COVID-19 Pandanic whose virus was attenuated by people from just one city to all nooks and crannies of the World.” He said.

Abdullahi, explained that August 20, every year is a day set aside for global commemoration of the discovery in 1897 that female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans, adding that since then, World Mosquito Day presents us with an opportunity to raise awareness of the dangers of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and shine a spotlight on ongoing efforts in the fight against the world’s deadliest creature.

It is therefore incumbent for Nigeria to jointhe fray in focusing attention on the cause of the mosquito rather than its effect and/or impact as presented by its bite on the human skin or the development of the plasmodium pathogen it injects inside the human host. This is where my ministry will stand firm, he stressed.

On prevention, he added: “I urge individual, family and community members to imbibe the following preventive measures keep waste materials and junks away from village squares, huts, rooms, insect-proof their rooms by using wire mesh to reduce mosquito entry into living and bedrooms; make sure that they do not keep derelict or disused materials in and around dwellings and regular cleaning and removal of waste and junk materials.”I

Essentially, they should endeavour to seek assistance of trained Environmental Health Practitioners on best ways of handling mosquitos and other animal disease vectors generally, the Minister added.

“As a Ministry, we remain committed to our mandate of Disease Pest and Vector Management in Nigeria. To this end, we are entrenching sustainable programme focusing on eliminating and/or reducing breeding avenues for disease vectors which involves fostering collaboration with stakeholders including sub nationals, development partners; relevant Ministries, Departments (MDAs) and Agencies Civil Society, Community Leaders.

“Further, as the Ministry responsible for environmental health matters, we are working to strengthening our administrative and technical structures in order to emplace a robust and comprehensive Vector Control Programme with special emphasis on Mosquito control.

“The strategies to be deployed would include Integrated Pest and Vector Management as outlined in the National Environmental Sanitation Policy, 2005. Our roles on Integrated Vector Management as identified in the National Malaria Strategic Plan 20142022 will be played expeditiously and as diligently as possible in order to deliver.

“Furthermore, we shall ensure working with the Sub nationals Bato and Local Governments on matters of Disease vectors control as a sure means of attaining the goal of among others, mosquito elimination from our great out Nigeria.” He said.

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