By Ikenna Osuoha
Ms May Ikokwu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Save Our Heritage Initiative (SOHI), on Monday advocated priority attention for older persons in the nation’s malaria prevention and treatment policy.
Ikokwu made the advocacy in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the occasion of World Malaria Day in Abuja
She expressed concern over the high rate of cases of non-communicable diseases such as malaria among older persons.
“Like many serious diseases malaria has a more severe presentation in older adults compared to younger patients.
“Older persons with malaria can expect to have higher death rates, higher levels of presence of malaria parasites in their blood, more complications and protracted illness,’’ she said.
Ikokwu, who called on government and relevant stakeholders to include older persons in the preventive and curative interventions, said that malaria was one of the deadliest tropical diseases.
According to her, older persons due to their susceptibility to diseases need to be provided with insecticides, treated mosquito nets and also quality malaria prevention care.
She described older persons as national heritage that should be protected from avoidable deaths including death from malaria.
Ikokwu commended the Federal Government for the inauguration and implementation of the Global Fund 2021-2023 Malaria grant which was aimed at eliminating the disease across the country.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide.
The estimated number of deaths from malaria stood at 627, 000 in 2020.
The WHO African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden.
According to the WHO African Region in 2020, the region was home to 95 per cent of global malaria cases and 96 per cent of deaths from malaria.
According to the report, children under 5 accounted for about 80 per cent of all malaria deaths in the region.
NAN reports that World Malaria Day is observed annually on April 25.
The aim is to bring global attention to the efforts being made to end malaria and encourage action to reduce suffering and death from the disease.
Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans and 2 of these species – P. falciparum and P. vivax – pose the greatest threat.
Falciparum is the deadliest malaria parasite and the most prevalent on the African continent P. vivax is the dominant malaria parasite in most countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa.