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ERADICATION OF MALARIA IS A TASK FOR ALL.
Onaoluwa Abimbola Ajayi
Before now, I used to wonder how women who had babies and still remained active with other pursuits managed to do it.
Today, I can give one answer – having a very strong support system (insert thank you to my husband and mother in love, mother, siblings, sister in law and fathers here).
Of course, the woman has to work twice as hard… Wake up in the night to pump breast milk, never mind that you slept late too. But, at least having that support system enables you to show up even when you are a nursing mother practicing *exclusive* breast milk feeding.
Two weeks ago, we checked into the AHI Residence in Lagos, as I prepared for an intensive 2 weeks “Basic Malaria Diagnostics” course at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos.
It was a very grueling two weeks. Even the #EndSARS protests could not stop our 7: 30 am to 6pm daily training schedule. We made up for the days Lagos was on curfew by having our classes on Sunday too.
Lectures, reading several slides per day, presentations etc… Even though it was very tasking, it was also very interesting.
Our facilitators (WHO Level 1 Microscopists) inspired us greatly. I am still a Level 4, but I believe by God’s grace and with increased on the job skill building, I will get to a Level 1.
The training and programme is part of the Walter Reed Project Naija series currently ongoing in 13 states of Nigeria to update and skill up Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) in Nigeria. It was sponsored /administered by the Global Fund/ Henry Jackson Foundation For Medical Research International.
Shockingly, some states do not have up to the 30 required MLS per state.
Do you know what that means for medical laboratory services in that state?
Probably none existent in some LGAs or manned by quacks.
Another reason to shout about lack of access to appropriate healthcare.
There is nothing like common malaria o. If you have experienced malaria delirium like I did, you will know that malaria is a big deal. Sadly, children below five who are most often affected and cannot speak up about the pains they feel.
Every health centre needs Medical Laboratory Scientists who are skilled Microscopists so that we can ensure accurate diagnosis and then proper treatment of malaria.
Wrong diagnosis may mean:
Saying someone has malaria when in actual fact, they do not. This leads to:
? Usage of drugs when there is no malaria which eventually leads to drug resistance and could harm the patient.
We should not allow the parasite to become resistant to the drugs we have at this time.
? Also, saying someone does not have malaria when they do would lead to severe illness and possibly death!
The government needs to do better. As end users, we also in the community need to do better. We need to eradicate these bloody parasites causing Malaria. They do more harm and no good!
To eradicate, we need to have microscopic examination of the blood of every one that presents with malaria, so that we can identify those who have gametocyte forms ( the sexual stages of the malaria parasite that produces more parasites transferable to others).
The gametocytes are responsible for the transmission of the parasite from humans to mosquitoes and the mosquitoes then transfer to other humans.
But, if accurate diagnosis is made via microscopy, those who have gametocyte forms can be identified. These persons can then be appropriately treated so they don’t continue to be reservoirs of the disease… Since the usual drugs may not kill the gametocyte forms.
If you have access to anyone in power, please speak the truth to them. Let them equip the hospital and health centre laboratories and employ the appropriate personnel so that we can move closer to eradicating malaria in our communities.