On Monday, 25th April 2016, the world celebrated Malaria day. It is expected that Nigeria should be a country also celebrating a move towards elimination, due to the excess expenditure on malaria elimination.
Yet, it has been reported that Nigeria had one of the highest number of deaths from malaria worldwide. So, I decided to throw a question out to three people who help fight against Malaria in the country. My question was “Despite all the focus to eliminate Malaria in Nigeria, Why is it still a problem?”
Interestingly, I got three different answers. Let’s discuss them, shall we?
1st Answer: Malaria is still a problem because of our environment.
The female anopheles mosquito is the mosquito that carries the parasite that causes malaria. And like every female, it needs to preserve its generation, hence it lays eggs (or breeds) in natural water collections. Our environment is such that there is a lot of natural water, especially during rainy seasons. In our environment, because we dispose trash everywhere, there are so many open containers, tyres etc. lying around that collect water when it rains. And these become perfect sites for the breeding of the mosquitoes. Another big issue is our drainage systems. A drainage system is built to drain water from rain or floods to a river or a stream. But miraculously, our drainage system does not drain. It stores water instead. Water that is perfect for the eggs. So believe it or not, we have billions of eggs happily hatching in our environments ready to suck our blood and continue their generation.
2nd Answer: Malaria is still a problem because the government does not allocate enough funds for its elimination.
I’m sure this answer is not surprising because we know our government. Although, there are so many NGOs dedicated to eliminating Malaria in Nigeria, these NGOs are mostly funded by foreign agencies. Our government just doesn’t care. So they do not allocate enough resources for malaria elimination. Probably because they do not see Malaria as their problem. They do not see any profit gained from spending on Malaria elimination. Instead, foreign donors keep pumping money to this country for that sole purpose. To ensure we sleep under mosquito treated nets. To ensure that primary health care centers have the necessary drugs. To ensure that no one dies from malaria. And, I’m so sure, that soon, these foreign donations will stop. They will be tired of pumping money where there is no result. And then, we will be left stranded. But then again, the government doesn’t care. So…
3rd Answer: Malaria is still a problem because we do not care.
True. We just do not care. After all, it is Malaria. We can just go to the pharmacy and buy drugs. It is not a big deal. Some of us might even be wondering why the government should spend money to eliminate malaria at all. I mean, it’s just malaria, right? Well, Malaria kills. Malaria is bad. Maybe, for you, malaria is an excuse not to go to work. But many children have died from malaria. Why should a child die from malaria in this day and age? Why? Malaria can also cause blindness in children, when it affects their brain (cerebral malaria). Malaria is also bad for pregnant women. It causes severe anaemia in the woman. Which can kill her. Or the baby when born. Malaria is also bad for people living with HIV because it worsens their condition.
Now, if there are many children in Nigeria, many pregnant women and women intending to be pregnant as well as many people living with HIV in Nigeria, doesn’t that add up to a substantial amount of people? Then, shouldn’t we care?
From the three different responses, it should be obvious that the environment has to be taken care of, the government has to make necessary investments and we need to care. They all have to happen synergistic-ally. If these don’t happen, then the dream that the World Health Organisation has, to reduce 90% of malaria cases and deaths will be just that. A dream.
Oh, and just so you know, there are still people that do not know what causes malaria. Believe it or not. Why should there be people in this country that do not know what causes malaria? I’ll leave you to answer that question. Perceived causes of malaria include the sun, oily foods, or not eating enough foods. So of course, according to them, mosquitoes are just annoying little insects. Do you expect them to carry out any extensive effort to protect themselves then?
For more information on world malaria day, You may click on the link below.