Dr. Babajide Majekodunmi, a Medical Officer with the General Hospital, Gbagada, has described malaria as a life-threatening disease transmitted to people through the bites of infected female anopheles mosquitoes.
Speaking at a two-day training organised by the Lagos State Government, in collaboration with a Malaria consortium, for clinical staff of the facility, Dr. Majekodunmi, said the disease has been the major cause of ill health (morbidity), death (mortality), impaired child development, absenteeism in school children and lost opportunities for economic development.
He stated further that 98% of malaria infections are due to Plasmodium Falciparum (PF), which causes the most deadly form of malaria known as severe malaria, noting that two major variations of malaria are uncomplicated malaria and severe malaria.
According to him, “When a patient presents fever or history of fever in the last 48 hours and has positive Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) or blood smear test and no symptoms of severe illness, it is referred to as uncomplicated.
But when a patient presents parasitologically confirmed malaria, who is ill and has one or more clinical manifestation, it is said to be severe malaria”.
Dr. Majekodunmi highlighted some supporting features that should give a high index of suspicion of a diagnosis of severe malaria to include impaired level of consciousness, jaundice, prostration, hyperpyrexia and so on.
The Facilitator submitted that malaria is curable and preventable, but it still causes the death of many people due to wrong treatment, late treatment, ignorance of its spread and people not being protective of themselves.
In his words: “The objectives of prompt and effective malaria are to cure the disease and eliminate the parasite from the body, prevent progression to severe disease or death, prevent transmission to others, prevent the parasites from developing resistance to the malaria treatment and minimise adverse drug reactions”.
Majekodunmi affirmed that approximately 37% of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, about 80% of malaria cases and malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, while 27% of the global cases of malaria occur in Nigeria.
Key interventions, according to him, include scaling up of universal access to parasitological confirmation of malaria using Microscope or Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs), providing prompt and effective antimalarial medicare within 24hours of fever, early recognition and improved management of severe malaria cases and expansion of access to free ACTs at the community level.
The high point of the training was a practical demonstration on how to test for malaria using RDTs.