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NIGERIA | Curbing Rising Trend Of Malaria And Self Medication

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Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces the risk attached to self medication and high death rate. World Health Organization (W.H.O), recommends that all cases of suspected malaria be confirmed using parasite based diagnostic testing before treatment. Treatment solely on the basis of symptoms should only be considered when a parasitological diagnosis is not possible.Therefore, self medication in this context, is treating oneself of malaria without consulting a medical doctor or a care giver in this field. The recommendation of W.H.O, provides guidelines for the limitation of the treatment of malaria. Most of these limitations are found in W.H.O.’s website, www.who.int/water sanitation-health/disease/malaria.

In this website, W.H.O’s statement on malaria in Africa, dangers of the disease, prevention and control measures are stated and explained. In Nigeria, the fight against malaria, remains a must win as several billions of naira, are spent annually on this battle even as children and adults die on daily basis as a result of the resistance of the parasite and nonchalant attitude of many Nigerians towards the treatment of the disease.

While this serious fight to reduce the effect of malaria is on, some persons in parts of Nigeria, remain ignorant of the disease let alone the control and preventive measures as prescribed by W.H.O. For example, in areas where the message of kill mosquitos to eradicate malaria is preached daily, and several health facilities are on ground to combat this ailment, about 50% who responded to this study claim to depend solely on herbal treatment of malaria, a practice very common in rural communities in Nigeria.

According to one of the respondents, On’omo Ojomoh, at Uromi community in Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo state, “whenever I have malaria, I treat it with herbs. There are some herbs that are cooked and there are those that can be grinded, I prefer herbs because they are efficacious than the so called orthodox medicine. The orthodox drugs have undergone series of destruction of the nutrients contained in the herbs used in the procurement of those drugs but when you take leaves, it is nutritious because the nutrients are inbuilt and are more effective”.

Another respondent, who identified herself as Mrs. Mary Agberah, at Ubiaja in Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo state, disclosed that in April 2014, when she was attacked by malaria, it was herbs and Alabukun powder she used in treating it. According to her “I treated the malaria with leaves and Alabukun, I cooked both of them together, because I don’t have money to take myself to the clinic”.

However, the control of the disease is yielding positive result in some parts of the country, especially in the cities, because majority of the people are exposed to broad knowledge about malaria control and prevention through mass media messages and care givers in this field.

Though the current administration from the federal to the local level, in conjunction with W.H.O, and other non governmental organisations (NGO), within and outside the country, had organised series of concerted campaigns to create awareness on the dangers of malaria at the community level, but this concerted efforted have today, change the held views of atleast 25% of those who depend solely on self prescribed medication either as herbal or orthodox drugs for the treatment of malaria.

If previous successive government administration, had taken such giant steps in the fight against this disease, it is believed that most Nigerians, especially in the rural areas think that malaria illness is caused by drinking water contaminated by human or animal faeces, which contains pathogenic micro organisms. Some others believe that malaria is the world’s most important parasitic disease transmitted from one person to another through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito which breed in fresh or occasionally brackish water. Also about 3.3 billion people- half of the world’s population are at risk of malaria, an alarming figure that calls for renewed concern and care for our way of living.

While the campaign against malaria is greatly encouraged in the nooks and cranies of the country, it has been discovered that half of the mosquito treated nets distributed to rural dwellers are been dumped by those who received them due to different reasons by some respondents.

Although some respondents claim to use mosquito treated nets but, they don’t sleep in it instead, they have converted it to Window nets which they say is more convenient for them.

This study further shows that about 25% of respondents in places like Akure in Ondo state, Ubiaja in Edo state, Lumene bangha and Kere bangha community both in Rivers state, claim to use both herbal and orthodox medicine over malaria treatment. Infact, they disclosed that the first treatment is to take cooked herbs and later proceeds to chemist shops to buy antimalarial drugs should the parasite resist the herbal medicine previously taken.

According to one Mrs. Felicia Osehon, “I fell sick of malaria early this year, and I treated it with both herbs and drugs from the chemist shop, what I did was to just pick leaves and boil and then buy drugs from the chemist. As for me, If I do not combine the treatment, I’m not relieved. Though she claim to have mosquito treated net but said she doesn’t use it because there are no much mosquito in her place of residence.

Further more, another respondent, Mrs. Blessing Ayemere, disclosed that whenever she or any member of her family, is suffering from poor health conditions amounting to head ache, general weakness of the body, high body temperature and bitter taste in the mouth, the first thing she does is to treat for dysentery, and when symptoms persists, then Mrs. Ayemere, said she will sure its malaria, and without wasting much time herbal medicine is prepared and taken but if it symptoms persist she proceeds to the chemist and after detailed explanation some drugs will bought from the chemist. The ailment will eventually be taken care of after the completion of the dose.

Everybody has a great role to play in this fight against malaria. Talking about the treatment and prevention of the disease and for Nigeria, to perform effectively in this context, there is need for early diagnosis and treatment of malaria which reduces the wide spread and deaths occasioned by the disease.

According to the director general, National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos state, Prof. Innocent Ujah, in an interview sometime ago, he said. “We must get the tenet of defeating malaria, we should have environmental hygiene, we must have cleanliness, we must have personal hygiene, we must use insecticide treated nets.

And then of course, case management, as soon as you have fever you must go to hospital or health facility so that they can have the malaria microscopy done and if its confirmed, you have the treatment”.

Also speaking on the problem, Dr. Danladi Imonlaime, a private medical practitioner at Ubiaja in Edo State, stated, that “persons with malaria, that takes a longer period to cure, may pose as danger to the public. One may have a communicable disease, and not know he or she is transferring it to other people during the period of drug resistant”.

Some chemists, also spoke on the problem. Amongst them are Mr. Andy Adeke, a retired nurse, stated. “it’s unfortunate, even when you advice some people, the great defaulters are those who you think are educated, they bump in here and start asking for drugs. They don’t tell you what’s wrong with them so that you can give the expected drugs. You know, so many nigerians, need to be told so many things relating to malaria and drugs”.
Respondents in Edo state, believe that this negative attitude

Published: April 6, 2015 by By Okoh Innocent
Copyright © 2015 Bendel Newspapers Company Limited (BNCL)

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