Via Business Day: Malaria, not just an epidemic, it is mass-slaughter. Excerpt:
Despite years of the disease being on the clinical priority list of Nigeria, malaria still remains the country’s biggest health challenge.
Sixty percent of all outpatient cases and 30percent of hospitalisations amongst the under-5 population are attributable to malaria. It is responsible for one in six children in Nigeria dying before their 5th birthday.
Indeed, more people die from malaria in Nigeria than in any other country. It isn’t just an epidemic, it is mass-slaughter.
Though statistics indicate that nearly half of all Nigerian households have an insecticide-treated net, it is doubtful how effective this intervention has been as any decline in infection rates has been marginal.
Medical and clinical treatment is still therefore the key tool for managing the federation’s malaria burden. Medicines, especially combination therapies, are of course central to any clinical or medical regimen.
The challenge has been the quality of some of these medicines. Though huge amounts have been spent by the Federal Government and donor agencies to enhance access to medicines for patients through such programmes as the AMFm (Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria), which is a multi-donor programme that subsidises good quality medicines for distribution to patients regardless of their socio-economic background, the problem of quality continues to frustrate improvements in the malaria situation in Nigeria.
The good news is that the main pharmaceutical industry associations such as NIROPHARM, APIN and PMGMAN have come up with strategies for working with NAFDAC to improve the quality of malaria medicines in Nigeria.
One major focus of the partnership is on cutting-edge technologies that can be deployed to empower patients to verify the authenticity of a malaria drug in a few seconds and at no cost.
Such a system is urgently needed as the quality situation has grown critical. In March of this year, the United States Pharmacopoiea (USP), A US-based organisation that conducts research into pharmaceutical quality, undertook testing of samples of malaria medicines bought in pharmacies across Lagos.
A shocking 85percent of these medicines failed basic tests, and many were detected to be fake, counterfeit or substandard. Patients who had bought or may still be buying any of these medicines have no way to check if the medicines are registered by NAFDAC, are the original products from registered companies, and have passed or failed recent tests.