ELIMINATION OF MALARIA: The CRS And Ogun Examples

BY: Ademola Orunbon

            MALARIAogun logo is a life-threatening mosquito-borne blood disease caused by a Plasmodium Parasite, it is transmitted to humans through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquitoes, called ‘malaria vectors’ and once an infected mosquito bites a humans, the parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells. Meanwhile, Malaria is considered as major health challenge that hinders the development of countries, especially those in African, where over a million lives, including expectant mothers and children under the age of 0-5 years are affected. Mindful that the disease remains one of the biggest challenges and which causes 11 percent of maternal mortality in Nigeria, the Federal government and key stakeholders are making serious efforts to ensure that the rate at which the disease spread is reduced to the barest minimum or reduced maximally.

Though, a report tagged, Malaria: Its Human Impact, Challenges, and Control Strategies in Nigeria, by Arese Carrington, described malaria as one of the most serious health problems facing the world today. According to the report, the World Health Organization (WHO), estimates that over 300 million new cases of malaria arise, with approximately two to three million deaths resulting from contraction, Malaria is endemic in tropical Africa, with an estimated 90 percent of the total malaria incidence and deaths occurring there, particularly amongst pregnant women and children. Specifically, malaria is causing various problems in Nigeria. Malaria is the only vector-borne disease to be placed on the World Health Organization’s Disability Adjusted Life Years list.

It is imperative to look at health problems like malaria that grossly affect the morbidity and mortality rates, as well as the economy of a developing country, such as Nigeria. Nigeria has a population of about 180 million people. A large percentage of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty in rural areas, without access to potable water and adequate health care. Though, the report noted that Nigeria, a low-income country, saddled with huge foreign debt burden, risked “sinking further into debt as it struggles with a sick populace whose good health is essential for its economic growth.”

Malaria is caused by four different protozoa in the plasmodium genus: either Plasmodium Vivax, which is more prevalent in low endemic areas, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malaria, and the Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four. The Plasmodium falciparum has a life cycle in the mosquito vector and also in the human host. The anopheles gambiae mosquito is the vector responsible for the transmission of malaria. The prevalence of malaria is dependent on the abundance of the female anopheles species, the propensity of the mosquito bite, its longevity and the rate of development of the plasmodium parasite inside the mosquito, and when the mosquito bites and sucks the blood of a person infected with malaria parasites, she becomes infected; she then transmits the parasites to the next human host she bites.

Malaria incubates in the human host for about eight to ten days. The spread of malaria needs condition favourable to the survival of the mosquito and the plasmodium parasite. Temperatures of approximately 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of at least 60 percent are most conducive for the mosquito. The development of the malaria parasite inside the mosquito is more rapid as the temperature rises and ceases entirely below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bid to curb the spread of the disease, the Federal government and various International organization have stepped up advocacies to ensure people are adequately sensitized to preventive measure and how to get treated if affected. One of the measures through which the spread of malaria can be curbed is the use of Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (LLINs).

This year, Ogun state government, through the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with a number of Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), that include Global Fund, implementation Agency ‘Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS), the National Elimination Programme, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Society for Family Health, embarked on the replacement of LLIN campaign across the three (3) Senatorial Districts of the state in furtherance of the 3.3 million nets to be distributed in 2018 alone.

The Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, revealed that, in April this year, the team, which comprised officials of the various organization and the state government envisaged 3.3 million as the population expected to benefit from the programme. He said “The team CSR toured the entire state with a mandate to distribute for the population about 3.3 million nets as part of its mandate”.

Also, the Technical Consultant of the Project, Mrs. Wasila Kolo said that the nets are chemically-treated and endorsed by the World Health Organization to protect people from mosquito bites that cause malaria, Kolo added that the move was imperative as she said governments globally are interested in curbing the deadly disease. She, therefore, called on people, especially the expectant mothers and children to optimize the opportunity by making use of the materials.

Apart from the Micro-Planning, sensitization and advocacy programme, the team visited the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Traditional Rulers, Traders, the Media and other relevant stakeholders to persuade them to key into the initiative, spread the advantages of LLINs and create more awareness on the exercise.

In continuation of the efforts to make more people aware of the exercise, official were drawn throughout the 236 wards to help with household mobilization, houses were reached from April 14-22, this year with net cards to ensure the eligibility of each household (i.e. father, mother and two children) have a net card while cases with more children attract an extra net card. The net card were the legal tender for the collection of the nets. During the process, two beneficiaries of the LLIN cards, Mr. Dada Israel, a resident of Liberty Junction, Oru-Ijebu and Mrs. Adelani Akintunde of Sango, praised the state government and its partners for the initiative. They pledged their readiness to make judicious and wise use of the nets.

Meanwhile, on April 27th, this year, Ogun state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, presided over the inauguration of the LLINs Replacement Campaign Distribution. At the ceremony, Amosun underscored the importance of the nets as protective guards against mosquito bites. He promised to restore healthy living apart from dredging water canals that enhance mosquito breeds. He also supported the all-round sensitization initiative to ensure compliance and adherence to the campaign.

Amosun said that state of emergency ought to be declared in the health sector, noting that no fewer than 300, 000 people die of malaria in the country on an annual basis, he added that Nigeria accounts for 24b percent of annual deaths due to malaria in the world and asked Nigeria to do more to combat the scourge of malaria, given its population strategic position on the African continent.

Also, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Mr. Karl Lowe, said the seriousness of malaria menace in Nigeria was reflected in the increasing deaths among children and pregnant women. Lowe, however, added that the efforts by CRS, with support from ‘Global Fund’, was yielding results as incidence of malaria dropped from 42 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2015, noted that the reduction served as the encouragement for the international donor, ‘Global Fund’, to approve the distribution of over 3.3 million LLINs across the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas of Ogun state.

At the opening ceremony and the distribution exercise with the sampling of the use as well as onward collection by beneficiaries, from May 1 to 5 this year, about 1.6 million nets were believe to be redeemed with net cards out 3.3 million, representing 35.6 percent reach. In the process, about 11, 555 workers were engaged for the distribution across the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas of the state.

After the distribution, some independent monitors will move round Ogun state from May 7 to 12, to assess the level of compliance with the campaign, households would be visited to know the challenges encountered during the drying, hanging and use of the nets. During the end-process as it was called, residents were assisted to hang the nets and re-orientated on the need to sleep under/inside the nets at bedtime to safeguard them from mosquito bites.

Orunbon, public affairs analyst, writes from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore, Abeokuta, Ogun state.

Can be reached via:orunbonibrahimademola@gmail. com or 08034493944. 08029301122.

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