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Covenant University, Fidson Healthcare, Ado-Odo/Ota Partner to Stem the Menace of Malaria

A call for more funding from governments, international organizations, and the private sector towards accelerating the latest innovations and translating them into workable policies and programs in the quest to defeat the malaria scourge was made at the 2022 World Malaria Day medical outreach event organized by the Covenant University Community Development Impact Initiative Committee (CU-CDIIC).

In a lecture titled "Research Innovations to Reduce Malaria Burden and Save Lives in Our Communities: Where are we?" delivered by Professor Grace Olasehinde of the Biological Science Department, Covenant University, it was said that if Nigeria is to eradicate malaria and save millions of people from dying from the disease, there is an urgent need to invest more in quality research activities and innovations in Nigeria.

Professor Olasehinde said the development of new drugs and vaccines for treatment and prevention, new diagnostic test methods (simple noninvasive methods, e.g., diagnosis from urine, saliva, and sweat), innovative insecticide-treated materials and revised systems for delivering and evaluating malaria control should be embraced.

According to her, the Centre for Diseases Control’s malaria research goals are tailored to optimize the mix of current interventions for malaria control, establish and integrate new or revisited interventions, identify opportunities to integrate efforts with other initiatives, and conduct cutting-edge research and development in the laboratory and field that focuses primarily on malaria parasite transmission, emerging trends such as drug resistance, host immune and pathological responses to malaria, and at the same time evaluate and mitigate potential threats to malaria control, including insecticide and drug resistance.

Professor Olasehinde, however, identified drug and insecticide resistance, the role of operational research for innovation in designing interventions, interactions between researchers’ and research institutions, national malaria control programs and financial and technical partners, the translation of research outcomes into policies and programs, and poor research funding as challenges bedeviling research innovations to reduce the malaria burden.

Delivering a health talk at the event, the Chief Medical Officer, Covenant University Medical Centre, Dr. Ademola Adebanjo, said malaria is said to kill an estimated 725,000 people a year, yet we harbor and encourage these friendly foes in our environment through unsafe and unhygienic practices, with the burden being greater on vulnerable groups of women and children under the age of five years.

Dr. Adebanjo stated that eradicating mosquitos as the vector for plasmodium species is a critical step in the quest to reduce the malaria burden. He added that while it is difficult to completely eradicate malaria in our environment, it is possible to reduce the burden through proper environmental sanitation, targeting stagnant water, fumigating our surrounding areas, using kerosene on stagnant water, and so on.

He stated that the use of insecticide-treated nets and insecticides is critical in this control process, as well as the use of mosquito repellant cream on exposed parts of the body when going out, especially for vulnerable groups such as women and children under the age of five.

Dr. Adebanjo was of the view that usage of prophylactic antimalarial such as Daraprim, which is Pyrimethamine, is an example of weekly used preventive measures for malaria, and above all, vaccination.

He charged the gathering not to hesitate in seeking appropriate care when ill with fever, by endeavouring to test for malaria. "A positive RDT result is a useful tool for diagnosing and initiating treatment; this is to prevent antimalarial resistance," he added.

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease. But it continues to have a stubbing effect on people's health worldwide. Available records show that the global malaria burden declined steadily up to 2015 and has begun to resurge in recent years, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s latest World Malaria Report, the global cases of malaria recorded in 2020 were estimated to be 241 million, and they accounted for 627,000 deaths worldwide.

Declaring the event open, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abiodun H. Adebayo, said there was a need to be reminded of the urgent and concerted action to accelerate progress towards reducing global malaria incidence and mortality rates.

Professor Adebayo made a clarion call for stakeholders in the healthcare sector to invest in malaria research and innovation that will bring new vector control approaches, diagnostics, antimalarial drugs, and other tools to speed up the progress towards reducing the malaria scourge.

He said existing tools for preventing, diagnosing, and treating malaria need to be used more effectively, noting that every malaria awareness event is geared towards acquainting members of the community with the causes and control of malaria and the research innovations towards ameliorating the malaria burden and saving lives.

"Covenant University would continue to live up to its social responsibility and assist our immediate communities with community development projects that will promote and enhance their wellbeing," he added.

Participants at the event were tested for the malaria parasite, and free medication was given to those that tested positive, while insecticide-treated nets were given out to pregnant and nursing mothers.

The theme for the 2022 "World Malaria Day" is "Harness Innovation to Reduce the Malaria Disease Burden and Save Lives," and it was organized by Covenant University Community Development Impact Initiative Committee (CDIIC) in partnership with Fidson Healthcare Plc. and Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government on Monday, April 25, 2022.

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