Our daily efforts on reducing Maternal and Child mortality and morbidity rate in Nigeria can never be complete without strong efforts to prevent and manage malaria cases amongst our pregnant mothers and newborn.
Malaria is a completely preventable disease; however, about 3.4 billion people are at risk of the disease globally with 1.2 billion people at high risk (WorldHealthOrganization,2013). In 2012, malaria was responsible for the death of approximately 482,000 under-five children even though an estimated 136 million Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) were distributed to endemic countries the same year (World Health Organization,2013). Thus,malaria is still a major public health concern particularly in sub-Saharan Africa especially in Nigeria
In Nigeria, malaria is responsible for around 60% of the out-patient visits to health facilities, 30% of childhood death, 25% of death in children under one year and 11% of maternal deaths (National Population Commission,2008Noland etal.,2014). Similarly, about 70% of pregnant women suffer from malaria, which contributes to maternal anemia, low birth weight, stillbirths, abortions and other pregnancy-related complications (Federal Ministry of Health Abuja,2005). The financial loss due to malaria is estimated to be about 132 billion Naira($797 million) annually in form of treatment costs, prevention costs and loss of man-hours(Noland etal.,2014 WorldHealthOrganization,2012).Malaria, a debilitating febrile and life threatening illness, is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. Its route of transmission still remains as bites from infected female anopheles mosquitoes. Environmental factors and behavioral patterns of vectors and human populations combine to provide favorable conditions for malaria transmission (Boutin etal.,2005). Proven effective options to reduce morbidity and mortality include early diagnosis, combined with prompt effective therapy and malaria prevention through reduction of human-vector contact, especially with the use of ITNs (World Health Organization,2007). Perceptions about malaria illness, particularly households’ perceived susceptibility and beliefs about the seriousness of the disease, are important preceding factors for decision-making concerning preventive and curative actions Rakhshani etal.,2003).
The understanding of the possible causes, modes of transmission, and individual preference and decision-making about the adoption of preventive and control measures vary from community to community and among individual households (Adongo,Kirkwood &Kendall,2005). There have been a considerable number of reports about knowledge ,attitudes, and practices relating to malaria and its control from different parts of Africa.
How do we prevent Malaria?
To prevent mosquito bites, follow these guidelines:
• Stay inside when it is dark outside, preferably in a room covered with nets
• Wear protective clothing (long pants and long-sleeved shirts).
• Use insect repellent (safe ones )with DEET (N,N diethylmetatoluamide). The repellent is available in varying strengths up to 100%. In young children, use a preparation containing less than 24% strength, because too much of the chemical can be absorbed through the skin.
• Use bed nets (mosquito netting) sprayed with or soaked in an insecticide such as permethrin or deltamethrin. But make sure that these insecticides still work against the mosquitoes where you are. In some areas, mosquitoes have become resistant to permethrin and deltamethrin. So the bed nets do not offer much protection.4
• Use flying-insect spray indoors around sleeping areas.
• Avoid areas where malaria and mosquitoes are present if you are at higher risk (for example, if you are pregnant, very young, or very old).
• Keep your environment very clean and avoid trash buckets for breeding . Watch out for medical management of malaria tomorrow.
see more photos of our work on how we are helping to reduce this burden