I remember growing up in Nigeria, through primary and secondary school…the several bouts of malaria, the painful chloroquine shots and a few days on incapacity. A small inconvenience at most. It was one of my most enlightening moments in medical school when I realised that malaria was the single largest cause of death in children in Nigeria. My initial surprise turned into shock during my first job as a house officer in paediatrics as a I watched children die in my hands. The link to poverty and ignorance became clear to me as women brought their children into hospital after they had been treated with paracetamol for days with a fever, often paper white with pallor…
Memories of those deaths linger….I remember them always….but especially today…
This is the impact on the health of Nigerians…
- Malaria accounts for about 60% of outpatient cases in health facilities
- For approximately 300,000 annual deaths.
- It is also responsible for 25% of all infant related mortality.
- 30% of child related mortality.
- 11% of maternal mortality.
Insignificant…it is not!
Today, for the first time in 50 years, the international community is poised to win the fight against malaria worldwide. Effective, low-cost tools exist to prevent and treat the disease and new and improved tools are currently being developed and tested. A consensus global action plan has been put forth to guide a coordinated international effort to control, eliminate and eventually eradicate malaria. A robust Partnership, uniting all key actors and stakeholders in malaria control, is in place to respond to challenges that no organization or government can face alone.
But …will our country do its bit? Or will we be “the last country standing” like it has been for Polio, Guinea worm etc….Do we have the public health infrastructure to deliver bed nets to the people that need it most.
It will be even more embarrassing …as the name of our capital will always be associated with the renewal of efforts …the “ABUJA DECLARATION” at the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria at Abuja, Nigeria, 25 April 2000. They committed themselves to, among others,
- “halve malaria mortality of Africa’s people by 2010”, and
- resolved to “initiate appropriate and sustainable action to strengthen the health systems so that by 2005, 60% of populations at risk (especially pregnant women and children) have access to preventive measures, while 60% of those suffering from Malaria have access to prompt treatment”.
How far have we gone with this….well….you know the answer. The truth is that there is NO concerted action against malaria in Nigeria. None…..
That is our reality…
Find a list of statements relating to the World Malaria Day HERE
Find an excellent blog on malaria matters by a colleague passionate about Nigeria: Malaria Matters
To find out why things are stagnating despite the huge cost to your children, brothers, sisters…write:
Dr T.O. Sofola, National Malaria Control Programme Manager – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead