It was a beautiful Thursday morning when several community and professional volunteers, nurses, medical doctors, health workers, community elders and children gathered to participate in the Net-A-Child community advocacy campaign against malaria in Makoko community, Lagos state. The event which gathered over 1000 people from different part of the community was the 3rd medical outreach organized by the Slum2School Initiative within a year to ensure that malaria is eradicated from the community and children can stay in school without falling sick regularly, contributing to a high dropout rate.
The “World Malaria Day” was established and approved at the 60th World Health Assembly (WHA) in March 2007. It replaced “Africa Malaria Day” which was commemorated every year since 2001 on 25 April. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of malaria as a preventable and treatable disease and to mobilize communities across the world to get involved in the fight against it.
The Net-A-Child Project, has been part of the work of Slum2School Medical Outreach Team. As part of the event, long lasting insecticide treated nets, medications and compulsory health related tests are carried out within the community, de-worming, BMI, blood sugar level and several other health checks are carried out not only for children, but also for their care givers.
In commemoration of the World Malaria Day, selfless, energetic and dedicated volunteers defied the scorching sun of Thursday 25th of April, at the houses on lagoon area of the Makoko community. The participants tirelessly engaged other members of the community in what has been described by the project director Mr. Orondaam Otto, as the battle against malaria and other water borne diseases.
The event started at about 9 AM in the morning, lasting until 7 PM in the evening. Major highlights of the day were the distribution of hundreds of medicated and treated insecticide nets and malaria drugs to primary school pupils and their parents.
However, the sad fact still is that approximately 694 million people are estimated to be at risk of malaria in African countries, which represents twenty one percent 21% of the global population at risk. Furthermore, a total of 30% of the population at risk in Africa are concentrated in two countries: namely Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Almost 1 out of every 5 deaths of children under 5 in most African countries is due to malaria.
Several factors have made malaria control difficult in Sub-Saharan Africa, leading to substantial increases in malaria burden on the continent during the 1980s and 1990s. The first was the widespread emergence of resistance of the Plamodium Falciparum mosquito to Chloroquine (CQ), at the time the most commonly used anti-malarial drug. This has been managed by changing treatment policy to ACTs in most sub-Saharan African countries.
Secondly, poor quality of housing facilities available, poverty and limited access to health care also limit the feasibility and effectiveness of malaria control strategies already put in place and also limited funding to aggressively tackle the scourge.
Despite of these difficulties, there is a lot we can do. Collective interventions, like Net-A-Child Campaign, are invaluable and play a crucial part in the eradication of malaria. Among the dwellers of the Makoko community, there is a new hope arising, giving promise for a better future.