The tiny Mosquito is an insect that is known to be an enemy of man because of the deadly parasite it deposits into the human body whenever it bites thereby causing malaria fever, a major public health challenge. In this piece JOYCE REMI- BABAYEJU takes a look at why Nigeria ought to join in celebrating the World Mosquito Day.
As the UN celebrates the World Mosquito Day today, Nigeria may not be part of the annual event regarded in the UN calendar as very imprtant.
Findings show that the World Mosquito Day is a day set aside to celebrate the scientific discovery of the British Scientist, Sir Ronald Ross who on August 20, 1897 made a breakthrough research that the female mosquito known as Anopheles Mosquito is the actual cause of malaria that kills about 600,000 people globally.
Findings show that the gentle man’s discovery later became the foundation for all scientific works to eradicate the killer disease. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine holds Mosquito Day celebrations every year, including events such as parties and exhibitions since the 1930s.
Mosquitoes could be likened to dangerous invaders of the human species because of its devastating effect on human health. Despite the useful discovery the first World Mosquito Day in 1897, there are plenty of remaining gaps in scientific knowledge of the tropical disease.
In Nigeria, one single mosquito bite could lead an individual to frequent clinical visits, loss of man hours at work, a large out of pocket spending on drugs and many days of absence from school, for school children.
The effect of mosquito bites could be very devastating on the human body and particularly on the health of the vulnerable group which are women and children. In Nigerian, health statistics show that an estimated 300,000 children die of malaria each year. This accounts for over 25 percent of infants under one. Malaria accounts for the death rate of 30 percent of children under five and another 11n percent of women die from this tropical disease.
Interestingly, mosquito is also the cause of Dengue fever, although it has not yet been declared a global challenge, it is gradually becoming a public health challenge in some parts of Africa.
“Dengue fever could still be classed as a neglected tropical disease which means it probably doesn’t receive the attention it should – and the number of cases worldwide is still huge and growing.
Recall that former Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu first mentioned it dengue fever as it was first confused with Ebola when Nigeria had its first contact of the hemorrhagic disease through Liberian Patrick Sawyer.
According to Malaria Fact Sheet by the United States Embassy in Nigeria, globally, malaria affects 3.3 billion people, or half of the world’s population, in106 countries.
WHO report estimates that 216 million cases of malaria occurred in 2010, 81 percent in the African region. In 2010, there were about 655,000 malaria related deaths, about 91 percent in the African Region, and 86 percent were children under 5 years of age. Malaria is the 3rd leading cause of death for children under five years worldwide, after pneumonia and diarrheal disease.
At the recent World Malaria Day, the US said an estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year make Nigeria the country with the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, who made the remark at the occasion to commemorate World Malaria Day/World Intellectual Property Day in Abuja, attributed the high rate of death by malaria to the widespread of fake and substandard medicines.
“Despite so many gains in malaria prevention and treatment, the widespread prevalence of counterfeit, substandard medicines is contributing to the alarmingly high number of malaria deaths and costs of health care in Nigeria.
“An estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year make Nigeria the country with the highest burden of malaria. ‘’
As the world marked World Malaria Day, recently, the US said an estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year make Nigeria the country with the highest number of malaria casualties globally.
“Despite so many gains in malaria prevention and treatment, the widespread prevalence of counterfeit, substandard medicines is contributing to the alarmingly high number of malaria deaths and costs of health care in Nigeria. An estimated 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 deaths each year make Nigeria the country with the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide.
Entwistle said that the abundance of fake malaria medicines threatens the progress being made to control the disease in the country.
“Stolen malaria medicines often transported or stored in sub-optimal conditions decay and become ineffective, putting patients at risk for treatment. Parasites, a by-product of this decay, cause malaria, potentially mutate, and grow resistant to the drug. Also, the production of counterfeit medicines takes money away from legitimate businesses and discourages growth in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry, with a corresponding loss of goods and investment in the sector,” Entwistle decried.
He noted that, “globally, illicit proceeds from the sale of stolen or falsified anti-malaria medicine total more than $60 million a year.
In the same vein, the Chief Medical Director of University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Professor Etete Peters, advised Nigerians to always ensure accurate diagnosis of the disease before embarking on treatment, adding that accurate and precise diagnosis of malaria would significantly improve the quality of care given to patient.
He urged people to cultivate the habit of using long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, LLITNs, in addition to maintaining a healthy environment and hygienic practices, to guard against the breeding of mosquitoes, which are responsible for the scourge.
While appealing to the people to ensure that anti-malaria medicines are used rationally and correctly, he advised that people should stop assuming that all feverish conditions are malaria.
Doctors say that the use of LLINs remains one of the most effective malaria vector control methods available to date in the fight against malaria as it acts as a physical barrier and prevents mosquitoes from gaining access to individuals sleeping under it.
“According to the Nigerian National Malaria Strategic Plan 2014-2020, malaria is responsible for 60 percent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 percent of childhood deaths, 25 percent of deaths in children under one year, and 11 percent of maternal deaths,” he said.
According to World Malaria Report 2014 source, Malaria transmission affects 97 countries and territories around the world, particularly on countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nearly 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to a protective insecticide-treated net, and at least 15 million pregnant women do not receive the protective treatment they need to keep themselves and their unborn child healthy. And malaria is still responsible for more than 450,000 child deaths in Africa each year.
In 2013, it is estimated that in sub-Saharan Africa 278 million of the 840 million people at risk of malaria live in households with no access to a single ITN; 15 million of the 35 million pregnant women did not receive a single dose of IPTp; between 100 and 140 million children with malaria still cannot access the WHO recommended ACT malarial drug for treatment.
As Nigeria still battles to keep malaria at bay all hands must be on deck to really fight the tiny mosquito to finish and terminate the malaria scourge like it did to guinea worn eradication.