In the bid to eradicate malaria from Nigeria, experts have called for more collaboration, increased commitment and science- based approach to eliminating the disease from the country.
The experts reiterated their resolve to fight the scourge during the 50th anniversary of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), recently in Lagos
Speaking at an event to mark the anniversary, the Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Prof Wale Oke, described the disease as man’s greatest enemy, adding that it was because of the disease that the sub-Saharan region was called the “white man’s grave” in the colonial era.
Oke, who described malaria as the most dangerous disease in the world, said the arrival of HIV/AIDS pushed efforts to eradicate the disease to the background, even though it kills more than HIV/AIDS does. “Besides, some people are seen to be resistant to the HIV virus, but same cannot be said of malaria,” he added.
The anniversary chairman, Prof Oluyemi Akinloye, who described the scourge as a systemic disease stressed that it was placing a huge economic burden on the country as over N132 billion was lost yearly to it.
“We are losing so much even though there have been several researches to curb the scourge for many years,” he said.
A malariologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof Wellington Oyibo, said malaria was still at the control stage in Nigeria.
“It is endemic in over 50 per cent of places in the country,” he said.
While stressing on the need to eliminate the parasite, he said the laboratory scientists have a role to play to ensure the scourge was reduced to the barest minimum in the country. “There should be more collaboration, so that the war can be won,” he said.
Oyibo identified the challenges in stamping out the disease as poor knowledge and non-application of required intervention strategies, such as long lasting insecticide-treated nets and case management among others.
“Last year, 97 countries suffered the ongoing malaria transmission with 3.2 billion people at risk of the disease, while 19 million cases were reported globally. But of the deaths that occur globally from the disease, over 90 per cent happened in Africa,” he said.
The chairman, organising committee of the anniversary, Mr Gbolahan Kabiawu, said malaria control was everybody’s responsibility.
“We have been collaborating with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and malariologists to conduct research to determine species of mosquitoes causing malaria,” Kabiawu said.