By Ruth Oginyi
The Ebonyi State Government says over 60 per cent of persons seeking medical care in the state are those suffering from malaria.
It also stated that it is a major cause of morbidity in pregnant women and children below five years in the state.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike made this known in Abakaliki during a media briefing to mark this year’s world malaria day with the theme:” zero malaria starts with me and the slogan, confirm if your fever is malaria-get tested”.
World Malaria Day is celebrated 25th March every year with free malaria test, road work, and health talks among other activities in Ebonyi State but owing to the outbreak of the Coronavirus the event was not held publicly this year.
The commissioner noted that in the country, malaria disease has remained a public health problem and major cause of deaths in pregnant women and children of less than five years.
Umezurike stated that the state government has distributed 1.9 million insecticide mosquito treated nets to residents of the state and has taken other measures including free malaria testing in all the public hospitals in the state to prevent the scourge.
He urged the people of the state to always sleep under treated nets to prevent mosquito bites, which according to him, was the major carrier of malaria.
Umezuruike said “In Nigeria and Ebonyi State in particular, malaria disease is still a public health problem. Over 60% of those coming to hospitals are for malaria and it’s the major cause of deaths in pregnant women and children less than five years.
“The theme for this year’s world malaria day is ‘zero malaria starts with me and the slogan is, confirm if your fever is malaria-get tested.’ What this means is that you must confirm that one has malaria before you say that he/she has malaria because of the years people go to the hospital and say they have malaria and they will be treated. This has led to lots of resistance in all the drugs used to treat malaria”.
Umezurike, emphasized that the celebration gives opportunity to increase awareness on malaria disease and encourage the use of proven intervention measures for malaria control.
Reacting to concern raised that some Government health facilities collect money for malaria test which ought to be free, the commissioner said the report will be investigated, pointing out that malaria test is free in the State.
Meanwhile, State Malaria Elimination Program Officer, Mr Lawrence Nwankwo, in his remark noted that this year’s world malaria day was on low key because of the Coronavirus pandemic across the globe.
He, however, urged the people to maintain Government directives on COVID-19 so that Ebonyi State will not record any case.
Mr. Nwankwo emphasized that sleeping under mosquito net is the best way to prevent the vector from transmission and appeal to residents of the State to maintain sleeping inside treated mosquito net.