By Remi Adeleke
It is quite shocking to read from Guardian Newspaper of April 25,2023 that Nigeria spend as much as N2.04triliion annually to combat malaria, but despite this colossal resources committed, thousands of Nigerians are still dying of malaria.
Nigeria suffers the world’s greatest burden of malaria with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths reported yearly. Malaria remains a significant burden in Nigeria, particularly in pregnant women and children under the age of 5years.
It could be deduced from the above highlight that Malaria is not only a public health challenge, its direct and indirect impact on the economy cannot be overemphasized considering the health care expenditure as well as the attendant impact like waning productivity occasioned by illness and death. It also affects foreign investment and tourism significantly.
Some researchers have also corroborated the above exposition that malaria is not only a public health challenge, that its consequence on the economy is too distinctive to be ignored. In the Nigerian communities where the malaria is endemic, the impacts are loss of resources, time, health of household members and in worst cases death. The researchers stressed further that 97% of Nigerians live under the risk of malaria and 76% in high transmission areas; 50% of the population estimated to have at least an episode of malaria yearly.
An insight into the ailment malaria revealed that it is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. Anopheles mosquito is the vector that carries the Plasmodium parasite. The egg larva that metamorphosed to mosquito is found in waterlogged areas gutter and broken bottles or in cans.
Some social thinkers have posited that the 1st stage of insanity is doing the same things the same ways over the years and expecting different results. If over the years colossal resource have been expended in combating malaria without commensurate result , is it not high time we re-strategized in our approach of intervention from curative to preventive for a better result?
It is an established fact that, various mass housing initiative to provide decent houses to Nigerians have always been a drop in the ocean or effective in rhetorics than in practice. To this end , emphasis should focus more on preventive approach that factors the kind of habitation or environment that Nigerians lived. It is evident that poverty is a major factor in malaria prevention and poor habitation is a function of poverty. The more urban an area is, the lower the cases of malaria. Over 70% of Nigerians are poorly sheltered and as such reside in either weedy, waterlogged or areas with blocked drainages. These are veritable sources of larva that eventually metamorphosed to mosquitos.
On the above premise, if N500 billion ie about half of the N2.04trillion is expended annually on construction of culverts and gutters in all communities nation- wide, it is expected that malaria case would be reduced considerably.
The States and local governments should complement the Federal Government by involving development control. Their involvement in assisting and ensuring that individuals built standard gutters and drainage systems around their habitation would go a long way in reducing cases of malaria in the country.
The defunct sanitary inspectorate system should be resuscitated as well as in all local Governments Areas to ensure that Nigerians keep their environment clean.
With this preventive approach, there would be no place for anopheles mosquito to thrive and malaria cases would be reduced to tolerable and inconsequential level.
(Adeleke Writes from PDP Quarters, Suleja, Niger State)