MALARIA: ONE OF THE WORLD’S DEADLIEST PARASITIC DISEASES
Globally, malaria is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality affecting people of all age groups especially children especially in endemic areas such as Nigeria.
Malaria is one of the greatest threats to the modern society in terms of morbidity and mortality. In areas of endemicity such as Nigeria, it poses a major problem to both human capital; economic development among others factors. It has been estimated to cause death of two million children globally per annum.
Malaria is a common disease with public health challenges.
Globally, nearly 50% of the world’s population (3.28-3.4 billion people) lives in areas at risk of malaria infections, which are distributed in 106 nations (Nigeria Malaria Fact Sheet, 2011). Okonko et al. (2010) reported that 300to 500 million clinical cases of malaria occur globally leading to over 1 million deaths.
The World Health Organization estimated that 216 million malaria cases occurred in 2010, of which 81% occurred in Africa (Nigeria Malaria Fact Sheet, 2011). In the African region, 30 nations accounted for 90% of global malaria deaths and are found in Sub-Sahara Africa. Typically, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Cote d’ivore account for approximately103 million malaria cases and 47% of the World total per annum.
The Nigeria Malaria Fact Sheet (2011) further reported that Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia account for about 50% of global malaria deaths.
In countries like Nigeria where malaria is endemic, malaria is common to children, young and even the elderly. Nwanosike et al.(2015) reported that malaria accounts for about 60% of out-patient hospital visits and 30% of hospitalizations among children less than five of age. The Nigeria Malaria Fact Sheet (2011) reported that those at risk in Nigeria are about 97% while the rest 3% live in malaria free areas.
Furthermore, malaria prevalence in children between 6 to 59 months in Nigeria based on geographical coverage is 41-50% in the North-West, North-Central and South-West; 31-40% in North-East and South-South; and 21-30% in the South-East (Nigeria Malaria Fact Sheet, 2011). Several studies have reported the prevalence of malaria among school age children in several locations in Nigeria.
There are several deaths emanating from malaria and its co-infections. For instance, Nigeria Malaria Fact Sheet (2011) reported that 100 million malaria cases occur in Nigeria leading to about 300,000 deaths per annum, making malaria the leading cause to death after HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Several control approaches have been carried out toward the eradication of malaria. Some of these include the use of insecticides and destroying the habitats and breeding grounds of the vector, use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and targeted chemoprophylaxis. Malaria infection has been attributed to poverty in African countries. Nigeria is currently estimated to have a population of 170-180million. The country has a wide range of micro-weather conditions and cultures. As such the prevalence could be affected by life style of a given locality, microclimate, topography, population densities, and cultural practices among others. These are the main determinants affecting the transmission, intensity and management of malaria infection. However, several factors determine their prevalence in the region that they are endemic.
BY AKUBUO CHIGAEMEZU