As Nigeria targets to eliminate malaria by 2030, public health experts and environmental health practitioners have said that tackling the cause of malaria is key to achieving the target.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently inaugurated a committee to eliminate malaria by 2030, and he said that eradicating malaria would save the country from the estimated economic burden of about N687bn in 2022 and N2trn by 2030.
Applauding the president for the move, health experts have however, said that though the country has the potential to eliminate malaria by 2030, it is not feasible, unless there is conscious effort at drastically reducing mosquitoes in the environment.
A public health physician, Dr. Charles Okeke, told me that malaria is mainly influenced by the environment, stressing that environmental re-engineering, health education/promotion, free malaria test and treatment for under-5 and pregnant women, should be considered if the country truly wants to achieve it’s malaria elimination target.
Meanwhile, the minister of Environment, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, has said that effective mosquito control takes the form of exclusion-removal of suitable vector habitat through sound hygiene and sanitation, which stops breeding by preventing egg laying.
He said although the adult mosquito bite through the use of Insecticide-Treated (Mosquito) Nets is posting some gains, attaining the desired impact is not near and is unfortunately not too reliable.
In the same vein, the chairman, Pest Control Association of Nigeria (PECAN), FCT Chapter, Terungwa Abari, said pest control through source site management is a vital component of malaria control and elimination strategies in the country, saying that pest control is highly effective in preventing infection and reducing disease transmission.
He noted that despite efforts by governments to control malaria, the disease has caused developmental challenges, poverty, and millions of deaths in the country, while stressing the need for multi-sectoral, sustained and diligent implementation of critical components such as vector management.
Speaking on government efforts, the director, National Malaria Elimination Programme, Dr Perpetual Uhomoibhi, said the country has been profiled for critical locations where Indoor Residual Spraying is urgently required with about 25 states on the list.
“These are the states with the highest malaria burden, or where there have been reversal of the gains in terms of malaria incidence,” she said.
She called on the general public to support the malaria elimination efforts, noting that a large part of the implicating factors rests on human behaviour and attitudinal change.
“Simple actions like keeping our immediate environment clean, ridding our surroundings of refuse and unwanted receptacles, screening out windows and doors and sleeping inside insecticide-treated bed nets every night, will go a long way in curbing the malaria menace as well as other mosquito-borne diseases,” she said.