States employ innovative approaches to reduce malaria disease burden in Nigeria

Feeling feverish with body pains, 25 years old Blessing Musa sat patiently in the waiting room of Kuchingoro Primary Health Care Centre, in Abuja Municipal Area Council, anxious for the result of her blood test from the laboratory.

Ms Musa had consulted with a doctor, who asked for a malaria test, and the result came out in less than 30 minutes positive for malaria.

“I came to this health centre because my friend recommended it. She said the turnaround time for malaria tests is short, and as you can see, it is true. I have been feeling unwell and don’t want to do self-medication. With this result, I can now confidently treat my ailment without guessing,” said Ms Musa.

Malaria spreads to humans through the bite of an infected anopheles mosquito. Although preventable and curable, it can be life-threatening if not treated on time and laboratory tests are useful for diagnosing the disease.

“We use the Rapid Test Diagnosis (RDTs) kit for malaria screening; it has improved the turnaround time for malaria diagnosis. We attend to an average of 15 malaria tests a day, and patients appreciate it because of the low waiting time. The RDTs are equally as good as microscopic diagnosis, said Abdullahi Musa Rabiu, an intern Laboratory technician at the Kuchigoro PHC

With malaria still one of the deadliest diseases globally, no single tool is available to solve the problem. Nigeria has made remarkable progress in malaria control efforts over the years but still among the top high burden countries and one of the two epi-centres of malaria transmission across the globe.

In line with the World Health Organization Global Malaria Programme (GMP), guided by the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, which aims at reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90% by 2030, Nigeria has been harnessing innovations to reduce the burden of the disease and save lives in the country.

Supporting innovative testing in the Northeast

Through concerted efforts, WHO supports the government of Nigeria at federal and states level and partners in malaria programme implementation across the country.

For instance, in the North- East, WHO is working with the states to roll out plans of action through the state malaria elimination program (SMEP), to address challenges related to diagnosis, treatment and surveillance for malaria, enhance early detection and improve case management in line with national strategic plans and guidelines.

In Borno State, the WHO partnered with National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Global Fund, Germany & USAID, supported the State Ministry of Health to train 225 healthcare workers, including doctors, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory scientists & technicians and community health workers across 59 functional health facilities on improving malaria diagnostic testing, treatment, documentation and surveillance.

Donations of malaria RDT kits and drugs amounting to 594 malaria module Integrated Emergency Health Kit (IHEK)were made available to the state after the training.

Also, WHO has been supporting the NMEP to improve malaria surveillance, drugs, and insecticide monitoring, while advancing towards its goal to achieve a parasite prevalence of less than 10% and reduce mortality attributable to malaria to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2025.

Optimizing WMD for other public health intervention
Meanwhile, as part of activities to commemorate 2022 World Malaria Day (WMD), WHO supported states across the country to raise awareness on the ways of preventing and treatment of the disease.

In Ekiti State, southwest Nigeria, the government supported by WHO took advantage of the WMD sensitization campaign to shore-up COVID-19 vaccination.

To create demand for COVID-19 vaccination, the State Team utilized the WMD activities as entry points to reach populations at risk.

“To make the COVID-19 vaccine attractive, the state employed demand-side interventions such as distribution of nets, sensitization meetings to lead to significant gains in vaccination. We intend to continue integrating malaria elimination activities to address other health interventions to risk populations such as pregnant women”, Dr Fatiregun, the WHO State Coordinator said.

Also, in Ogun and Ondo, WHO supported the State Ministry of Health and partners to commemorate the WMD through sensitization campaigns on malaria testing and the use of Insecticide-treated nets to reduce suffering and deaths from the disease. Free malaria testing was also conducted for residents of the two states.

The WHO commemorates World Malaria Day on 25 April every year to raise awareness of the burden of the disease and underscore the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community in uniting around the common goal of a world free of malaria. This year, WHO is highlighting the critical role of innovation in the fight against malaria, “Harness innovation to reduce the global malaria disease burden and save lives.”

Culled from Reliefweb.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.