• Accelerating malaria control efforts for equity

    Accelerating malaria control efforts for equity - nigeria newspapers online
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    Accelerating malaria control efforts for equity

    Malaria. File Photo

    Malaria continues to impact the world’s health and livelihoods, posing a significant threat to public health, particularly in regions with limited resources and infrastructure. Despite decades of efforts and advancements in its prevention and treatment, millions of people still suffer from this disease each year, especially in developing nations like Nigeria.

    In 2015, the World Health Organisation adopted the Global Technical Strategy 2016–2030 to guide nations in reducing malaria cases. The strategy aims for a 90 per cent reduction in the global malaria burden by 2030, emphasising the need for health systems to provide preventive, detection, and treatment services to all malaria-affected individuals. To achieve the WHO’s 2030 ambition, we must act with determination and urgency on our shared goal of building a society where malaria is eradicated.

    A famous strategy of the government to eradicate malaria, aside from raising awareness, is the distribution of mosquito nets to the populace. Despite these strategies, Nigeria is far from achieving a malaria-free status. A recent WHO evaluation found that more people suffer from malaria despite increasing access to insecticide-treated nets and malaria medications for young children and pregnant women. In 2019, an estimated 229 million cases and 409,000 deaths were reported, mostly among children under the age of five. In 2020, WHO stated that the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria still account for 40 per cent of the estimated global morbidity and mortality due to malaria. This revelation begs the question: How do we accelerate the fight against malaria to achieve equitable results in eradicating the disease?

    Frequently, we hear pledges to address the burden of malaria with a focus on equity; however, the reality often falls short of these lofty ideas. Hence, to attain a malaria-free world, bridging this gap and translating our pledges into tangible actions is important. Pledges can turn into deeds and malaria control efforts for equity can be accelerated if every individual decides to add their quota. Our impact as individuals, which may seem intangible, can bring us closer to the dream than we can imagine. To make a significant impact, we should understand that what exacerbates this challenge is the glaring disparity in access to life-saving interventions, with marginalized communities bearing the brunt of the burden. Which is why there is a pressing need for equity.

    Equity is vital in malaria control. Lowering prevalence matters only if everyone gets fair access to prevention and treatment, regardless of socioeconomic status or location. Priority should be given to vulnerable groups: women, children, and those in remote areas.

    The fight against malaria is not only meant for the government or international organizations, individuals can also play crucial roles, contributing to more equitable results. We can do this by addressing various aspects of prevention, treatment, and advocacy.

    Individuals may educate themselves and others on malaria transmission, symptoms, and prevention. They may help debunk myths and misconceptions in their communities, increasing knowledge and enabling better-informed decisions to be made on the prevention and treatment of malaria. Individuals can provide essential resources to vulnerable demographics, such as pregnant women, small children, and individuals residing in remote or hazardous locations, by volunteering with local health groups, contributing funds to projects focused on preventing malaria or participating in fundraising events.

    Individuals can influence and promote the fair allocation of resources, scientific research, and political dedication to the management of malaria at the community, national, and global levels by vocalising their concerns and advocating actions. Individuals can protect themselves and their families from malaria by using mosquito nets, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and applying insect repellent. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing the spread of the disease. Adopting healthy behaviours like proper sanitation, safe water storage, and environmental management can also contribute to malaria prevention efforts.

    Rhetoric alone is no longer acceptable. It’s time to move quickly and combat malaria while keeping a close eye on equity. We can reverse the impact of malaria and create a future where no one is harmed by this disease by putting the needs of the most vulnerable populations first, bolstering healthcare systems, improving access to preventive tools, empowering communities, utilising technology and innovation, and advocating political will and funding. To achieve health equity for all, let’s unify our voices and actions.

     Adeyemo Oyeladun can be reached via [email protected]

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