Ahead of the celebration of the World Malaria Day (WMD), the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there are an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa as millions of people are still not accessing the services they need to prevent and treat the disease.
However, according to the “World malaria report 2015”, there has been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since 2000. The report noted that progress was made possible through the massive expansion of effective tools to prevent and treat malaria, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, diagnostic testing and anti-malarial medicines.
According to the WHO, there is still a significant challenge as globally, about 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria.
In Nigeria, the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) said the preliminary results of the Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) conducted last year indicated that the prevalence had come even further down from 42 per cent in 2010.
The National Coordinator of NMEP, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, told The Guardian : “… If you recall, before 2000, the prevalence of malaria was well above 50 per cent in most parts of the country. By 2010, the Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) demonstrated an average prevalence of 42 per cent. Recently in 2015, another MIS was conducted. The preliminary results we have from this survey indicate that the prevalence has come even further down. Finishing touches are being put in the survey report, and as soon as this is concluded, the result will be made public. I believe it will be exciting to all stakeholders.”
Ezeigwe said although Nigeria had attained 80 per cent coverage of Long Lasting Insecticide Net (LLIN), the usage was lagging below 40 per cent in most parts of the country.
She explained: “In spite of the progress recorded, there are many challenges that are slowing down the speed. Significant amongst this is the recalcitrance of people to uptake the interventions. Simple as it is, many people still do not use LLIN. Although Nigeria has attained 80 per cent coverage of LLIN, the usage is lagging below 40 per cent in most parts of the country.”
In a related development, Reckitt Benckiser’s (RB), in a bid to reduce the spread of malaria, has expressed its readiness to start an anti-malaria campaign in 20 local councils of Lagos. RB is the manufacturer of Mortein.
At an event to mark 2016 World Malaria Day in Lagos at the weekend, the Marketing Director, RB West Africa, Oguzhan Silivrili expressed concern over the spread of malaria. According to him, over half a million (627, 000) people die from malaria each year, 25 per cent of them in Nigeria, mostly among children under the age of five. ‘‘As I speak to you, millions of people are suffering from malaria all over Nigeria and every minute a child reportedly dies from malaria.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said that Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs) accounts for 27 per cent of total death in the country.
Speaking at this year’s National Heart – Health Nutrition Summit in Lagos, he said NCDs, primarily cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are responsible for 63 per cent of all deaths globally.
Adewole who was represented by the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Prof. Innocent Ujah, said the burden of NCDs would increase unless strategies were put in place to arrest the situation.
He noted that risk factors of NCDs were aggravated by poor awareness, harmful cultural practices, beliefs and misconceptions by the public; hence “the excess consumption of red meat, saturated fats, salts, refined sugars and drinks among others.
“We need a robust collaboration to deliver quality, affordable, accessible and acceptable health services to Nigerians, therefore the need to strengthen the NCD surveillance system,” he expressed.
Adewole explained that in this regard, government through his ministry had established “a National Policy and Five-Year Strategic Plan of Action on NCDs.”The theme for the summit was “Lipids and Cardiovascular Health In The Nigerian Population.”
Also speaking at the summit, President of the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), Prof. Oladipo Akinkugbe, pointed out that the summit was organised in furtherance of the 2013 World Health Assembly which endorsed the NCD Action Plan 2013-2020 and recommended promotion of healthy diets by member states, international partners and civil society organisations.
According to him, “the summit was also intended to support the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target of reducing heart attack and stroke by 25 per cent through the provision of practical tools to prevent cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
Addressing the theme, he said the rising prevalence of CVD in the country prompted the foundation to seek a consensus on the controversial issue of the relationship between lipids and CVD health in the Nigerian population. “Coronary heart diseases (CHD) have become a major public health problem globally, being an important cause of morbidity and mortality.”
Akinkugbe told journalists that high lipid was one of the several risk factors in CVD, others include high tobacco and alcohol consumption and low physical activities.
Reacting to questions about cholesterol consumption, Executive Director of NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, expressed regret that “we don’t know what is zero cholesterol in the Nigerian definition and yet over 40 brands of vegetable oil in the country claim zero or low cholesterol in their labeling.”
Akinroye enjoined Nigerian scientists to go into research findings to give Nigerians what can be referred to as zero cholesterol, as the summit was to give room for further research findings in that regard.
In view of the enormous tasks of fighting NCDs in the country, Adewole called on other government parastatals like the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Youth and Sports and Nigerian Customs Services to help in regulating cross-border marketing of foods high in saturated fats, fatty acids, free sugars and salts, among others .