Tuesday, July 5, 2011

United against Malaria?

May 5, 2005

By Sani Garba Mohammed

'FG to spend N350m on treated bed net' is a captioned story in the New Nigerian
of 22/4/05; this was disclosed by Ministry of Health Prof Eyitayo
Lambo in this year malaria day tagged 'United against Malaria'. The
plan is expected to provide 12m net in the next 5yrs to pregnant women
and children, not withstanding that in the last 5yrs he said they were
only able to provide 4m nets.
What baffle me is, for how long shall we be wasting our energy, time
and resources in buying a net that is hardly being used and
unavailable, despite continues claim of the government that it is
supplying net. Every health worker, irrespective of his profession,
knows that malaria is an environmentally based disease, hence its
total prevention and control lies in environmental management than
nets and drugs. The issue of nets does not even constitute up to 2% of
malaria. Mosquitoes, that caused malaria is attracted by stagnant
water in our drainages, abandoned cans and tin, old tyres, un clearing
of weeds and grasses, and failure to evacuate waste we are generating
daily to lay it eggs and survive there.
Therefore, to me, wasting time on only nets and drugs as a measure to
roll back malaria is not only a window dressing but also unfortunate.
Neglecting and failure of the government to invest much in the
environment, which favours the survival of the vector causing the
disease is un-called for. Instead, it paid more attention in ACT and
nets which is more profitable and attractive to the government and
even the donors.
Recently, National Environmental Sanitation policy was formulated
which covers all aspect of environmental health control, yet because
the attention of government is more to politics, nothing has changed.
Instead, the pre-occupation of Federal Ministry of Health is in the
curative measures than preventive. This is also more favourable to the
promoters of the nets and the drugs, whom are raking interest in the
process, as a result, prevention is [was] downplayed.
If we really want, achieve the theme of this year malaria day –'United
against Malaria', then all hands must be on deck from environmental
health perspective to pharmaceutical health angle. In addition,
environmental health practitioners [aka sanitarians] must be
incorporated in any move of diseases prevention and control to play
their roles, or the mission will remain a mirage.