World Malaria Day (WMD) is an international observance commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria . Established on May 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s decision-making body, WMD has come to stay since then, with different programmes every year tailored towards reducing the burden of malaria.
For the observance of 2017 WMD with the theme:”End malaria for good”, the catch was the announcement of the WHO malaria vaccine RTS, S, with pilot programme to be conducted in three African countries- Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.
While the whole of African continent is still basking in the euphoria of this discovery, it is pertinent for all healthcare practitioners to look inwards, especially Nigerians to seek way forward to the development of medicinal plant for malaria control.
Several studies conducted at different parts of the country, have validated the use of different medicinal plants for the treatment and prevention of malaria, but more often than none, most of these findings have remained moribund, as they were not being implemented.
That Nigeria- known to be the most populated black African country, was not among the countries selected to partner with WHO on the new malaria vaccine poses two impressions-perhaps our scientists are not doing enough work on malaria or the WHO deliberately sidelined Nigeria.
In the wake of this development, Nigerian researchers are called to rise to their responsibility of harnessing the rich natural flora of the nation to upgrade the wellness status of the citizens. Already, some plants as used by the countryside people have been listed for their anti-malaria properties.
In the study titled:”Traditional Medicine Treatment of Malaria in Onitsha, South East Nigeria”, conducted by Ogbuehi I.H. and Ebong O.O., 11 plant species were found to be in use for the treatment of malaria in the study area. Their botanical and local names respectively are as follows: Nauclea latifolia (Mburumuilu); Azadirachta indica (Dogonyaro); Cymbopogon citratus (Achara ehi); Morinda lucida (Ezeogu); Sida acuta (Udo); Alstonia boonei (Egbu) for fever; Ocimum gratissimum (Nchuanwu); Carica papaya (Poo-poo); Mangifera indica (Mangoro); Vernonia Amygdalina (Olugbu) and Psidium guajava (Gova).
The research, conducted at the Centre for Malaria Research and Phytomedicine, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, showed the plant parts used to be the leaves, roots and stem bark.
Again, according to the work of Tolu O Odugbemi et al, titled “Medicinal Plants Useful for Malaria Therapy in Okeigbo, Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria”, several plants were identified for the treatment of malaria in the area.
Some of them are: Sphenocentrum (Akerejupon) Rauvolfia vomitoria (Asofeyeje) Enantia chlorantia ( African yellow) Khaya grandifoliola (Iroko) Senna siamea (Senna) Senna podocarpa (Asunwonibile) Azadirachta indica (Neem) Mangifera indica (Mango Bark) Physalis angulata (Koropo) Carica papaya (Pawpaw) Tithonia diversifolia (Jogbo) and so on.
If these plants are tenaciously worked upon by our scientists in state-of –the- laboratories that meet worldwide standard, then combating malaria in Nigeria will be a workover.