Nigerians have been urged to adopt either a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) or parasite-based diagnostic testing (microscopy) before treating malaria.
According to the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), the Department of Public Health, National Malaria and Vector Control Division, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), this is part of the guideline to ensure that Nigerians treat the disease properly.
NMEP made this known at a forum with the media at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja.
The RDT is a 10-minute test and highly effective for determining malaria parasite, NMEP said.
NMEP National Coordinator Dr Audu Bala Mohammed said poor malaria diagnosis and drug resistance had become worrisome. However, testing with RDT before treating enables health workers to confirm if the fever condition is a symptom of malaria or some other disease.
“It helps to save money that would have been spent on wrong treatment, if the client is negative for malaria. Use of the Rapid Diagnostic Test ensures rational use of anti-malaria, thereby limiting waste, and it avoids drug resistance,” said Dr Mohammed.
A professor of Medicine, Jane Ajuluchukwu, said typhoid is caused by faecal matter and not malaria.
“Hence it is good to know the source of water being used for cooking, because it is possible there is a contamination from a soak-away and the source of water for household use. The cook or chef should also be scrutinised because such may not be observing personal hygiene or hand washing, so faecal matter may move from that hand or finger nails into food and then consumed leading to typhoid,” she said.
NMEP Deputy Director and Head, Advocacy Communication and Social Mobilisation (ACSM), Mrs Itohowo Uko, said the advocacy was to ensure Nigerians do not walk into any drug outlet to request for anti-malarial because, “use of Rapid Diagnostic Test ensures malaria is treated only when medically necessary, i.e, when client has tested positive for malaria, as it helps avoid drug resistance in individuals and across the country,” she said.
Mrs Uko said fever is one of the symptoms of malaria, lamenting that research has shown that the majority of Nigerians treat fevers with anti-malarial medicines without consulting a health provider and testing with RDT or microscopy to confirm malaria.
‘’RDT is an easy, safe and effective way to confirm whether the fever is malaria. This can prevent clients from wasting time and money,’’ she said.
The Society for Family Health and the NMEP have raised the alert on the consequences of neglecting malaria, calling on the media to emphasise the disease and make it a matter of national concern.
SFM Managing Director Bright Ekeremadu urged the media to consider it a responsibility to draw the attention of Nigerians to malaria.
Nollywood star Kate Henshaw promised to support the malaria advocacy programme. She decried the attitude of Nigerians who look down on the sickness or consider it with condescending familiarity despite the harm it causes.
She said: “In those days, people spoke about malaria as if it belonged to them with expressions like ‘I have malaria,’ ‘my malaria’ and ‘ordinary malaria.’
‘’Surprisingly, after many years, these terms are still common place among family members, colleagues, and friends, irrespective of class or level of education. I have committed myself to support the fight against malaria in Nigeria by letting people know the benefits of sleeping inside the Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets, especially for children under five and pregnant women. It is also very important to have a Rapid Diagnostic Test done or microscopy done to be sure it is malaria before administering treatment with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT).”
Source : ThenationonlineThenationonline