Some medical experts have warned Nigerians against taking malaria treatment without proper diagnosis and confirmation as it could lead to complicated medical conditions.
The experts, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Monday, decried the rate at which people indulged in self-medication by using antimalaria drugs without diagnostic confirmation of the presence of malaria parasite in the body.
A Laboratory Scientist, Mr. Jude Ezenwa, urged Nigerians to always comply with the National Policy on Malaria which advised medical testing before receiving treatment.
Ezenwa, who works with Tex Laboratory Services, Okota Lagos, said that the policy, which had been in existence for years lacked adequate implementation, compliance, and supervision.
According to him, it has become pertinent that the policy is fully implemented to reduce unnecessary and irrational use of anti-malarial drugs.
“Malaria policy states that every suspected malaria case must be tested and confirmed before treatment can be administered on patients.
“This policy has been in force for many years in the country, but with little or no compliance by people,’’ he said.
Ezenwa said that implementing the policy might take time, but would save many lives in the end.
Also, Dr. Livinus Abonyi, a Lecturer in the Department of Medical Radiography, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Lagos College of Medicine, decried the non-compliance of the pharmacy stores to the national policy on malaria.
Abonyi advised that pharmacists and medicine store owners desist from attending to any patient that refused to go for testing before requesting malaria treatment.
“It is not every feverish condition, headache or joint pains that is an indication or symptom of malaria”.
The don recommended the use of the long-lasting insecticidal net, indoor residual spraying, and environmental management as other methods of reducing malaria in communities.
Abonyi further said that global malaria cases decreased significantly from the year 2000 to 2015, with most of the reduction attributed to vector control with insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying.
He added that keeping a clean environment and eliminating mosquitoes’ breeding places would help to ensure a low incidence of malaria.
Also speaking, Dr. Ayodele Ademola, a Consultant Gynaecologist, urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts toward getting/developing effective malaria vaccine for the country.
Ademola said that the malaria vaccine would help to put an end to the disease and its devastating effects thereby reducing the mortality rate and saving millions of lives.
He commended the government for all efforts toward containing the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that if such efforts could be directed to malaria or cancer, they would become things of the past.
NAN reports that the National Malaria Control Programme says that in Nigeria, the disease is responsible for 60 per cent outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 per cent childhood death, 25 per cent of death in children under one year, and 11 per cent maternal death.
“The financial loss due to malaria annually is estimated to be about N132 billion in treatment costs, prevention, and loss of man-hours, yet it is a treatable and completely evitable disease.
“The World Health Organisation estimates there were 229 million cases of malaria in 2019. Globally, malaria’s annual death toll stands at over 400,000, with no improvement in the last five years.
“Two-thirds of this terrible loss is among African children under five years of age. Approximately 93 per cent of the cases and 94 per cent of deaths occurred in Africa,” it says.