A molecular biologist, Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, has advised Nigerians to urgently treat malaria attacks to prevent shortage of blood, cerebral malaria, acute respiratory distress syndrome and death.
Iwalokun who is also the Director, Central Research Laboratory at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to mark World Malaria Day.
NAN reports that World Malaria Day is observed every April 25, to encourage continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.
The theme for the 2022 commemoration is: “Harnessing innovation to reduce the burden of malaria disease and saves life”.
He said: “Some people with malaria also experience malaria attacks. A malaria attack is a cycle of chills and shivering, followed by fever, then sweating and finally a return to a normal temperature.
“These attacks should be stopped as soon as possible to prevent complications of malaria such as severe anaemia which is the shortage of blood as packed cell volume below 20-24 per cent and hemoglobin below 8.0 g/dL.
“Other complications are cerebral malaria with the presence of the parasite in the brain, acute respiratory distress syndrome and eventually, death.”
Iwalokun also called for the integration of malaria screening into COVID-19 screening at the port of entries into the country to reduce the increasing burden of the disease.
“With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has skewed attention away from malaria control and elimination, many countries are now adopting the integration of malaria screening into COVID-19 screening at the port of entry.
“This approach is very important because of the recent increase in the global burden of malaria cases by more than 50 per cent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Iwalokun advocated for a decentralised and focused community-based malaria service implementation for hard-to-reach areas in the country.
“The hard-to-reach communities in Nigeria should not be neglected for malaria interventions if the country is desired to eliminate malaria by 2030.
“For decentralisation to happen, all malaria services – testing, treatment and distribution of treated nets should be taken from the health facilities to the communities.
“To also drive malaria elimination agenda in Nigeria, there is the need for revitalisation or establishment of mobile clinics for malaria control and elimination,” he said
Iwalokun said that achieving a malaria free Nigeria required collective responsibility of the government, people, research organisations and donors.
“The research organisations should be providing new knowledge and approaches, while the government with partner support, should ensure that appropriate malaria interventions are always available.
“And the Nigerian people should ever be ready to accept and use these interventions appropriately. We should take our respective responsibilities to make malaria elimination happen in Nigeria by 2030,” he said. (NAN)