Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Battle lines of Malaria

The Battle lines of Malaria

Malaria is a prominent disease which has continued its plight across the regions of the world. With a significant effect on countries across Africa, its landmark features has resulted in death of mothers, children, families, communities and cultures. Available records show that at least 50 per cent of the population of Nigeria suffers from at least one episode of malaria each year and malaria accounts for over 45 per cent of all out-patient visits. The disease accounts for 25 per cent of infant mortality and 30 per cent of childhood mortality in Nigeria. World Health Organisation (WHO, estimates 300-500 million cases of malaria, with over one million deaths each year. The battle lines to fight malaria through prevention, eradication and treatment continues to be a top priority assignment for Nigerians and advocate groups within various communities.

Malaria develops in the human body through a cycle of transmission which is assisted by bites from a female anopheles mosquito, the carrier of malaria parasite. The female anopheles mosquito is constantly looking for a blood meal to feed on to sustain itself through its breeding period. In a large population society like Nigeria, there is a strong possibility that the female anopheles mosquito will find the perfect blood meal in humans. When a female anopheles mosquito takes it routine bites in human’s everyday, it injects saliva mixed with an anticoagulant, if the mosquito is infected with plasmodium, that is the asexual cells of malaria parasites it also infects the host. The newly transmitted cells of malaria parasite continues to evolve and increase in number throughout the human body. These parasitic cells are born with an innate nature to swim through the human bloodstreams; they live comfortable within every organic corner they find in the human body. Their active movement continues to create a sense of chill, increase in body temperature, headaches, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, and jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and eyes). Convulsions, coma, severe anaemia and kidney failure can also occur. Most people begin feeling sick within10 days to 4 weeks after being infected. At this stage, the malaria parasitic cells, are in a state referred to as gametocytes, which comprises of male gametocytes and female gametocytes. Their growth and multiplication takes place inside red blood cells. As the malaria parasite continues to multiply and have an increased activity in the human body, the human host continues to grow weak and develop a low resistance to fight against this invasion hence needs to seek medical care.

In its mischievous attempt to continue its existence, malaria parasitic cells wait for the next flight… that is wait for the next mosquito bite and mix carefully with the mosquito saliva and passes on the gametocytes. The male and female gametocytes recombine in the intestinal walls of the mosquito forming another ready made parasite waiting for the next mosquito bite on another human host.

In Nigeria, malaria is not a backdoor disease but has taking the leading role in creating 11% of the cause of maternal death, rapid death of under five children, absenteeism from work and multiple health complications. Its problematic features make its budget siphoning to every stakeholder of the health sector. At the moment, Africa is largest territory region affected by activities of malaria trend with a share hold of 90% across the world. Leading research in medical science as found ways to prevent, treat and eradicate malaria across various zones in Nigeria. Organisation such as National Malaria Control Programme continues to foster measures to combat malaria and closely flanged the eloquent communication to the people by Development Communications Network to create public awareness of the high stake the disease has in the society.

Although common prevention measures exist (including use of medicine (prophylaxis), insecticides (coils and sprays), ordinary mosquito nets, insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and widow and door nets) malaria accounts for millions of needless deaths in Nigerian children, pregnant women and elderly people every year due to lack of knowledge of prevention, symptoms and proper treatment.

Malaria parasites continues to draw attention by evolving in its resistance to drug treatment which is now the leading cause for more research on its treatment and eradication. Strategic impartation of ways to prevent malaria continues to serve as the key to rescue the society from mortality pending the implementation of health policy for women, children, mothers, family and the community. Malaria continues to take high spot in the news across from rescue stories; to prevention and mass loss of people infected with malaria.

Malaria can be cured completely if only treated well, but many Nigerians rely on herbal drugs, traditional healers or just do without any medication at all. Information gaps need to be bridged and all Nigerians must be well informed about malaria and its implications to curb its prevalence and above all its shockingly high mortality rate.

Femi Adeolu Amele

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