Pharmacists Query FMoH Over Nigeria’s Absence on Malaria Vaccine List

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– As AHAPN celebrates World Malaria Day in Lagos

Members of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) have asked the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to explain why Nigeria is missing on the first list of African countries to participate in the pilot programme of world’s malaria vaccine.

The healthcare practitioners who expressed concerns on the burden of malaria in Nigeria at the recent World Malaria Day programme, organised by AHAPN national, in conjunction with the Lagos State branch, noted that Nigeria, having the highest burden of malaria in sub–Saharan Africa, ought to be part of the first set of countries to benefit from the pilot vaccine programme.

Speaking with journalists at the event, the National Chairman, AHAPN, Pharm. Kingsley Amibor, expressed surprise and disappointment at the development.

Pharmacists query FMoH over Nigeria’s absence on malaria vaccine list
L-R: National Chairman of AHAPN, Pharm. Kingsley Amibor; Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Moyosore Adejumo; and Former PSN Chairman, Lagos State branch. Pharm. Anthony Oyawole, at the World Malaria Day programme.

“I guess the Federal Ministry of Health should give us some explanations on that,” he said. “With the highest burden of malaria in Nigeria, Nigeria should be among the first countries to run the pilot vaccine test”, he said.

Amibor further added that government should, in the meantime, set up preventive measures to combat malaria.

“There is need for vector control, while the government must ensure the provision of insecticide-treated nets to all at an affordable cost because the parasite operates more at night; thus if we can prevent mosquito bites, we can actually prevent malaria,” he said.

Pharmacists query FMoH over Nigeria’s absence on malaria vaccine list
A cross section of participants at the programme

The AHAPN chairman also called on individuals to embrace personal preventive measures, such as regular environmental cleaning, prevention of stagnant water, cutting of weeds and clearing of drainages.

Speaking on the theme of the programme: “Zero malaria starts with me”, the keynote speaker, Dr Moyosore Adejumo, director of pharmaceutical services (DPS), Lagos State Ministry of Health, said it was apt as it calls for the collective efforts of all stakeholders, including government at all levels, professional bodies, healthcare workers, civil society organisations, communities, corporate organisations and even individuals to reduce the scourge of malaria in the country.

While acknowledging the successful implementation of previous malaria intervention programmes, which produced significant reduction in malaria prevalence and mortality in the country, Adejumo called for increased investment and partnership in the prevention of the disease. This, she said, would help to sustain the gains of such programmes.

Citing the Federal Ministry of Health’s recent report on malaria, the Lagos DPS asserted that 97 per cent of Nigerians, approximately 178 million people, are at risk of malaria infection. She further stated that there were 219 million cases of malaria globally in 2017, with 435,000 deaths.

She added that while 93 per cent of all malaria deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, children of under 5 years accounted for 61 per cent of all deaths.

Concerning the burden of malaria in Lagos State, Adejumo stated that the condition is responsible for more than 70 per cent of outpatients’ attendance in public health facilities, while over 400,000 cases are reported annually.

Highlighting the continued commitment of the state government towards controlling malaria, she mentioned the launch of the Eko Free Malaria Programme in 1999, and the inauguration of the Lagos State Malaria Research Technical and Advisory Committee (LASMARTAC) in 2008, adding however that there was still room for more innovative interventions.

The DPS listed the goals of malaria elimination interventions implemented in the state to include promotion of utilisation of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINS); prevention of malaria in pregnancy; using intermittent preventive treatment with sulphadoxine pyrimethamine; prompt diagnosis with malaria RDTS and microscopy; effective  case management with Artemisinim–based combination therapy drugs (ACTS), among others.

Chairman of the occasion, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, lamented that 65 per cent of Nigerians, numbering almost 120 million people, expend about N120 million daily to treat malaria, adding that the figure could be running into billions, if the cost of supplementary drugs such as analgesics, multivitamins and others are considered

Akintayo, who was represented by Pharm. Anthony Oyawole, remarked that to successfully eliminate malaria in the country, hospital pharmacists must align with other stakeholders to re-engineer the approach to malaria treatment in order to achieve zero prevalence of the disease.

AHAPN Lagos State Chairperson, Pharm. (Mrs) Titilayo Onedo, stressed the need for more of such awareness programmes in the country, saying if the populace is well enlightened on the causes of a disease, measures could be easily taken to prevent it.

“It is important we came out today because we want to enlighten the people on how to prevent malaria, and what to do, if they have malaria, as it is endemic in Africa. For instance, if they sleep under insecticide-treated nets, with clean surroundings, their chances of having malaria will be low.

“If all of us decide to prevent malaria, with each household regularly engaging in antimalarial activities, If we can do the right thing, in no time, malaria will be a thing of the past”, she stated.

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