Lagos sparks hope for malaria end

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Prevalence of malaria has dropped across the country, raising hopes the disease could be brought under firmer control in coming years, the National Malaria Elimination Programme has said.

NMEP’s latest indicator survey found malaria prevalence has dropped to a national average of 27%, meaning only around three of all fevers would test positive as being caused by malaria parasite, according to Dr. Godwin Ntadom, head of incident case management at NMEP.

Speaking with health journalists in Lagos, Ntadom posited Lagos was able to beat down its malaria prevalence using a combination of enlightenment, insecticide use, awareness to put nets over windows and sanitation to keep malaria-carrying mosquitoes away.

The absence of malaria in human populations means female anopheles mosquitoes still feed on humans to get blood to mature their eggs, but can’t find any parasites to carry off during feeding.

The falling prevalence calls for compulsory testing in a fever to help rule out malaria before treatment begins.

Ntadom said widespread use of antimalarials without ascertaining the cause of fever was a waste of the last line of drugs meant to treat malaria.

Malaria prevalence still ranges from 5% in Kogi to 20% in Bauchi and 64% in Kebbi.

A former Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu switched Nigeria’s malaria programme from ‘control’ to ‘elimination.’

A ‘pre-elimination’ stage which Nigeria hopes to achieve in a decade will require that only five in 100 fevers test positive for malaria parasite, a state it would have to maintain for five years.

Nigeria can only technically move into ‘elimination’ stage when only one in 1000 fevers test positive for malaria parasite – and possible only within the country or regional.

Eradication means worldwide removal of malaria, and global plans are to bring the world on “the verge of eradication” by 2035 and then hit eradication by 2040.

Malaria is more a concern for the developing world, but Ntadom says progress in reducing prevalence and improving treatment over years is positive, with annual deaths down to around 435,000.

Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo account for half of sub-Saharan Africa’s malaria burden, but countries as Rwanda, Namibia and South Africa have all but eliminated malaria.

‘The rate at which the world has moved since 2010, when the Roll Back Malaria programme started, shows it is possible.’

Written by Judd-Leonard Okafor. This story was sourced from the Daily Trust website.

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