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Always Test For Malaria Before Treatment- Experts

The event provided testing for malaria, high blood pressure, diabetes, and HIV to hundreds of community members.

By Johnson Atoukudu

On this year’s World Malaria Day, health experts have sounded the alarm that despite widespread awareness of the disease, it’s being excessively diagnosed and treated. They urge Nigerians not to automatically attribute every fever to malaria without accurate diagnosis.

During a medical outreach organized by Westfield Development Initiative (WDI) in collaboration with Diya, Fatimilehin & Co and Itire-Ikate LCDA to mark the 2024 World Malaria Day, Mrs. Omobola Lana, Executive Director of WDI, and Dr. Olufemi Oyekan, the Medical Officer of Health at Itire-Ikate LCDA, expressed concern over the issue.

The event provided testing for malaria, high blood pressure, diabetes, and HIV to hundreds of community members. Dr. Oyekan emphasized that a significant challenge in Nigeria is the tendency for people to assume that any fever or headache indicates malaria, leading to the inappropriate use of malaria drugs without proper medical attention.

“Most of the things we are saying is malaria is not malaria. Everybody is rushing to take malaria drugs. Often than not, when we run this test for them, it’s almost always negative.

Oyekan called for more health education on malaria to stop the rush to the pharmacy for malaria drugs but seek help from the hospital, adding that the rule in malaria treatment is test and treat and not treatment without proper diagnosis.

“People should be seen by a physician, let them do appropriate tests. What we are advocating for malaria is to test and treat. If it is positive, we now treat it. If it is negative, it means it’s not necessarily malaria. It’s something else. But what we do in this part is that everybody goes to the pharmacy first and when they have used drugs and are not getting better, they will now come back to the hospital.

“So, we advise people that if they are not feeling well, please visit your nearest hospital. Let them do proper things. Let them test you. If it’s malaria, we’ll know we’ll treat it. If it’s not malaria, if it’s other things, we’ll find a solution to it.”

Omobola Lana, the Executive Director of WDI, highlighted that malaria stands as a leading cause of mortality among pregnant women and children aged 0-5 in Nigeria. She urged Nigerians to prioritize environmental cleanliness and dryness to mitigate the spread of malaria.

Lana emphasized that mosquito bites can be prevented through the use of insecticide-treated nets, stressing the importance of collective efforts to combat malaria effectively. She pointed out that while smaller countries have successfully tackled malaria, it continues to pose a significant threat in Nigeria, impacting the health and livelihoods of its citizens and Africans in general.

Expressing concern over the alarming number of malaria-related deaths, Lana underscored Nigeria’s status as a high-risk country for malaria mortality and emphasized the ongoing need for attention to combat the disease.

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