The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi on Sunday disclosed that 700, 000 persons are diagnosed with malaria annually in Lagos despite the low burden of the disease in the state.
Abayomi in a statement to mark this year’s World Malaria Day, said with the diseases accounting for 70 per cent of outpatient in public health facilities alone, it was germane for Lagosians to stand up and take action against malaria. The Commissioner further disclosed in 2020, 657,154 patients with malaria were seen in both private and public health facilities in the state.
According to him, “By taking actions, we would be curbing the spread of the disease. It is essential that we prevent malaria by sleeping inside Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs). “This is particularly important for the vulnerable groups –pregnant women and children under 5 years old. Pregnant women are also encouraged to take Sulphadoxine Pyimethamine to prevent malaria in pregnancy from 2nd trimester.”
He explained that before using Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACTs) for treatment of fever, diagnosis either by malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (mRDT) kit or a microscope must be done.
He added that not all fevers are caused by malaria. “Diagnosis of patients with fever using microscopy or mRDT kit prior to treatment of the disease improves the overall management of patients with fever. This is also very important at this time as people infected with SARS–CoV–2 virus which causes COVID–19 manifest symptoms like malaria.”
He added that the distinction between malaria and COVID–19 is made only after proper diagnosis using appropriate test kits.
Stating that the theme for this year’s World Malaria Day, was “Zero Malaria – Draw the line against malaria’’ with the slogan; “Stand up–Take Action”, Abayomi stated that it was apt in view of the collective responsibilities of stakeholders at all levels; including community actors in reducing the scourge of malaria.
He said Malaria has plagued humanity since ancient times and continues to haunt nearly 50 per cent of the world’s population.
“Malaria is prevalent in the vulnerable groups – children under 5 years and pregnant women where the infection can be profoundly more severe. He said over the years, the Government of Lagos State has demonstrated continued commitment to the control of malaria through promotion of Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) utilization, prevention of malaria in pregnancy using Intermittent Preventive Treatment with Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine, prompt diagnosis in public health facilities using malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (mRDT) kits or microscopy, effective case management with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy drugs (ACTs) for patients diagnosed with malaria, awareness and Sensitization activities on malaria, procurement and Supply of antimalarial drugs and commodities to the State health facilities and health system strengthening and operational research.
He said testing for malaria was essential as it helps to reduce unnecessary use of antimalarial drugs thereby preventing the emergence and spread of drug resistance and to ensure that antimalarial drugs are reserved for those suffering from the disease. He implored Lagosians to remain committed to collective efforts towards effective malaria control in Lagos State. “Our individual and collective roles at ensuring clean environment as well as the use of preventive antimalaria measures as well as appropriate diagnosis prior to treatment cannot be overemphasized,” Abayomi added.