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Danger: Nigerians take excess anti-malaria drugs



THE federal government yesterday, raised the alarm over spate of unnecessary use and eventual abuse of anti-malaria drugs across the country.

  The alert was made by the National Malaria Technical Director in National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP), Dr. Olugbenga Mokuolu, in Abuja, during a session of the on-going 37th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN).

  Noting that although it is estimated that about 53 million episodes of malaria occur yearly, Mokuolu added that data, however, reveals that Nigerians are consuming anti-malaria drugs more than twice the malaria episodes because of lack of testing.

  According to him, all fever should be tested before initiating any form of treatment.

  “Fever is very common, and two out of three patients that come to the patient facility tend to present with fever. Projecting this from the health management information system, it is estimated that we have about 190 million fever episodes occurring in Nigeria. Sadly, less than half of them get tested.

It is important that the person with fever should be quickly diagnosed, treated, and the potential of spread should be eliminated as rapidly as possible. Malaria disproportionately affects children and pregnant women and can affect anybody, and therefore, we are all collectively at risk for malaria.

Ordinarily, it is estimated that about 53 million episodes of malaria occur in Nigeria each year. However, our data also shows that more than twice this amount of anti-malarial are consumed in the country annually. If you look at the cost of that, it means that we are consuming so much anti-malaria in excess of the quantity of malaria that we have.

 The reason why this is happening is because we are not testing enough. There is inadequate testing, and when there is inadequate testing, in addition to wasting our resources on medications that are not necessary, we also have the danger of not recognising other conditions that are not due to malaria,” he said.

  In his presentation, National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Dr. Chukwuma Anyike, explained that in order to provide qualitative service for tuberculosis, leprosy and buruli ulcer, there are currently about 17,699 DOTS centres (both public and private health facilities), about 3,400 Microscopy centers, and 403 Xpert MTB/RIF assay machines (both public and private health facilities).

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