As the world grapples with the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, experts have warned that malaria infection is increasingly responsible for Nigerians dying from the pandemic and vice-versa, since about 97 per cent of the population is at risk of the mosquito-borne infection.
They are worried that the focus on the containment of COVID-19 has led to neglect of the control of other important diseases, especially malaria, which may lead to the loss of the gains made over the years, saying disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and lack of access to anti-malaria medicines could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year, compared to 2018.
This is just as the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), lamented the refusal of some VIPs in the society to report to and be admitted at isolation and treatment centres for treatment, but would rather prefer to stay at other non-accredited facilities, thereby making healthcare workers very vulnerable to contracting the disease.
The NMA insisted that none of the infected healthcare workers or those that died contracted the disease at an isolation and treatment centre, but in general public and private health facilities while treating patients, many of whom refused to disclose important medical/travel information that would have increased the suspicion and facilitate early diagnosis of COVID-19 infection.
It, therefore, urged its members to consider everybody presenting at the hospital for any ailment as potential COVID-19 patient until proved otherwise.
In a statement signed by its President and Secretary General, Dr. Francis Faduyile and Olumuyiwa Odusote, respectively, while appealing to government to expedite action on distributing PPEs to public and private hospitals without delay, the NMA advised Nigerians to as much as possible, avoid self-medication, but rather report to healthcare facilities, as malaria and COVID-19 share similar symptoms.
According to WHO’s World Malaria Report of December last year, Nigeria came from almost 153, 000 deaths in 2010 to about 95 000 deaths in 2018, accounting for almost 24 per cent of all global malaria deaths.