Invest in the future, defeat malaria…

In Africa, more children have lost their lives to malaria than to HIV/AIDS. In fact every minute a child dies from malaria. This is due to a lot of factors like poor living and health conditions, little or no access to health services, proliferation of fake drugs, self medication and more. Malaria is a silent killer and we owe our children a duty to protect them from it. When malaria gets into the body, the body systems slow down; there is a resultant lack of appetite, headache, vomiting and loss of energy. If not treated, malaria can become life threatening by disrupting blood supply to vital organs.
Statistics have shown that 90% of malaria deaths worldwide occur in Sub Saharan Africa and the worst hit are women and children. It is sad to know that in Africa, malaria is still a cause of death, when it has been rendered completely non-existent in certain parts of the world. The truth is the African/ Nigerian approach to malaria is merely a defensive response to the threat, and lacking a genuine intent to end same. We cannot eradicate malaria simply by sharing mosquito nets and malaria drugs without facing the real issue, which is, taking proper care of our environment. Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. These mosquitoes breed in places where there is stagnant water, open drainages, poor refuse disposal and unkempt environs with overgrown grass. In Nigeria, the prevalence of malaria in urban areas is 23% as against 48% in the rural areas. The story behind all these statistics and figures is simple- Malaria is a community problem and the solution lies with the community. It is high time communities in Africa and Nigeria begin to tackle this threat, instead of the usual curative response. Every community must make the effort to completely eradicate the presence of mosquitoes around them. It is possible if we all decide that we can live in a clean environment. Mosquitoes like any other insect can go extinct, all we need do is make the environment uninhabitable for them. Communities especially in African countries where governments are usually unresponsive to the plights of the common man, and where urban areas experience development faster than the rural areas, must take urgent steps to make their environments malaria free. For every two children in rural areas with malaria, only one child in an urban area has the parasite. Making our environment mosquito free is too small a price to pay for our children.
My point is, communities that find themselves far from the government’s reach should ensure the following
1. The development of a drainage system to prevent the existence of stagnant water.
2. That they develop for themselves a refuse disposal system that would not allow mosquitoes to breed near their homes.
3. That they will take steps to ensure that they rid their immediate environment of overgrown grasses.
Kurudu is a very small community in the F.C.T. where residents and shop owners from the market pour their refuse on the flower bed right in the middle of the road. Once you arrive at the market, the unmistakable stench of refuse fills the air in addition to smoked fish, suya, beans cake and other food items. The drainage systems are blocked with refuse, and artificial streams of dirty water flows through the market and in front of their homes. The fight against malaria in a community like this cannot be won with mosquito nets and malaria drugs unless the members of the community decide to take charge of their environment. If we can maintain proper hygienic conditions through proper waste disposal, maintenance of drainages, and cutting over grown grasses, we reduce the presence of mosquitoes around us and become less susceptible to malaria.
The theme of this year’s world malaria day is Invest in the future, defeat malaria, and nothing explains my point better. How else can we defeat malaria but by pushing mosquitoes out of our environments and out of existence? When we keep our environment mosquito free, we eliminate the possibility of malaria, and invest in the future by protecting our children.

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