Tag SDGs: Can Nigeria “end malaria for good?”

Today is World Malaria Day and this year’s theme, as announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is “End Malaria for good.” In 2015, with the aim to dramatically lower the spread of malaria across the globe, the WHO adopted the “Global technical strategy for malaria.” This strategy is supposed to last for 15 years, which means it will be over by 2030.

The WHO hopes that over the next 15 years, the following goals will be achieved:

  • A 90 percent reduction in the rate of new malaria cases.
  • A 90 percent reduction in the rate of deaths caused by malraia.
  • Malaria will be eliminated in at least 35 countries.
  • Prevention of a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.

The 2030 deadline was set in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will come to an end in the same year. The aim to reduce malaria actually falls under the third SDG, which is endorsed by all UN member states (including Nigeria).

Although there has been considerable progress in defeating malaria, according to WHO, there were 214 million new cases of malaria and nearly 450,000 malaria related deaths in 2015, majorly in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is still very rampant in these parts because millions of people still lack access to the facilities they need to prevent and treat the disease.

Malaria is most prevalent in Nigeria with its record as the country with the highest number of malaria victims in the world. In 2015, about 100 million malaria cases and 300,000 deaths were recorded in the country. The government has launched a couple of initiatives, such as Roll Back Malaria and National Malaria Control Programme, however, these depressing statistics show that those initiative are not doing much in helping to cut back the spread of malaria across the country.

According to Mr. James Entwistle, who is the US Ambassador to Nigeria, the high rate of malaria is caused by the prevalence of counterfeit and substandard medications. “Stolen malaria medicines often transported or stored in sub-optimal conditions, decay and become ineffective, putting patients at risk for treatment. Parasites, a by-product of this decay, cause malaria, potentially mutate, and grow resistant to the drug. Also, the production of counterfeit medicines takes money away from legitimate businesses and discourages growth in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry, with a corresponding loss of goods and investment in the sector,” he said.

While Entwistle’s point is valid, could counterfeit drugs be the only reason why millions are living with the malaria parasite? What are the steps that needs to be taken to get rid of malaria in the country?

  • A good health care system

Nigeria needs more affordable primary health care centers that will offer quality services to the people. They should be responsible for diagnoses, treatment and monitoring of malaria in the area they are located in. They should also be able to educate their patients and other people on measures to prevent recurrence.

  • Research centers

The predominance of drug-resistant malaria parasites is high in the country, therefore, Nigeria needs a system that can monitor the spread of the disease. The research centers, based on its findings, will be able to develop a strategy to help to curb the spread of malaria, until the entire country is free of it.

  • Drug control

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) needs to be revived in order to purge the country of fake, expired and substandard medicines. By doing this, the people will be able to trust in the medications they purchase, helping to fight the spread of the disease in the country and reducing the number of malaria-related deaths.

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