In Nigeria today, malaria is regarded as one of the leading widespread diseases in the world. Endemic malaria no longer occurs in many temperate zones as a result of social and economic improvement. According to statistics, at present malaria is the Third World’s most dreaded killer. It kills over 1 million people and causes 300–500 million episodes of illness. Malarial mosquitoes generally prefer unpolluted natural breeding sites but now they have adapted to the changed urban environment.
As malaria’s incidence increases, so too will morbidity and mortality rates. Malaria is endemic in Nigeria, and the population at highest risk includes children, pregnant women, and the non-immune.
Malaria is caused by four different protozoa in the plasmodium genus: either Plasmodium Vivax, which is more prevalent in low endemic areas, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malaria, and the Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four. The Plasmodium falciparum has a life cycle in the mosquito vector and also in the human host. The anopheles gambiae mosquito is the vector responsible for the transmission of malaria. The prevalence of malaria is dependent on the abundance of the female anopheles species, the propensity of the mosquito to bite, the rate at which it bites, its longevity and the rate of development of the plasmodium parasite inside the mosquito. When the female mosquito bites and sucks the blood of a person infected with malaria parasites she becomes infected; she then transmits the parasites to the next human host she bites. Malaria incubates in the human host for about eight to ten days. The spread of malaria needs conditions favorable to the survival of the mosquito and the plasmodium parasite.
Efforts to control malaria in the last few years in Nigeria have met with little success. In many regions where malaria transmission had been almost eliminated, the disease has made come- back and cases of malaria are on rise. It forces man to seek shelter behind bed nets, and wear long sleeved shirts and clothes that conceal.
Environmental issue leading to malaria remains a huge challenge to people who reside in riverine areas in the country this is so because such communities are usually neglected by the government due to poverty and low literacy level.
Like the popular saying, prevention is better than care. Proper hygiene and health seeking attitude is one ofthe ways to prevent malaria. Distribution of mosquito nets, rakes, brooms, hand gloves and safety boots is to instigate regular sanitation in the community and reduce mortality rate.This is because the disease parasite breeds in dirty environments and to change the wrong perception of seeking medical care as last resort.
Having listed that, the nation needed more than mosquito net especially for people who are already infested by the disease.
Health care in Nigeria has a lot to do as well; it is not just about prevention of disease but also to provide information needed to people generally both literate and illiterate. The global aim is to eradicate malaria in Africa, so Nigeria is also in the forefront to tackle the parasite. WHO has recommended Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapies (ACTs) for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria caused by the P. falciparum parasite.
By combining two active ingredients with different mechanisms of action, ACTs are the most effective antimalarial medicines available today. The choice of ACTs should be based on the results of therapeutic efficacy studies against local strains of P. falciparum malaria.
A number of malaria deaths could be reduced further by increasing coverage with existing control tools, but it is generally recognized that this would not be sufficient to achieve the high level of control that would be needed to make elimination a credible objective. Nevertheless, malaria vaccine could be a one of the most cost-effective as well as reliable complementary tool to reduce/contain the prevailing global malaria burden. A malaria vaccine for mass immunization delivered cheaply and widely can provide a long lasting protection and a massive effect on global public health. However, such a vaccine does not currently exist.
Epidemiological surveillance is highly essential in any control strategy, and is an essential guide in developing a multi-dimensional approach. The malarial control units set up should keep data on the epidemiological surveillance and the information should be sent to the national malaria control center.
Policy makers need to aggressively pursue malaria control strategies because malaria infections are attacking Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, at an alarming pace. Factors that are also responsible for the increase in the resurgence of malaria such as environmental issue must be addressed.
However, government should take and implement transformational actions by adopting policies that takes the rural communities into consideration and put an end to distribution and selling of fake drugs. More so, more medical professional should be posted to the grassroots to ensure equal access to health facilities.