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ACOMIN: Malaria is killing more than Covid-19 now – Experts

…As communities shy away from health facilities.

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Medical experts in Kaduna on Friday said the death rates occurring now as a result of malaria under coronavirus are far more than that of Covid-19 pandemic itself. Their remarks were corroborated by community-based organizations, CBOs.

Dr. Firima Augustine of Malaria Consortium, and Mrs Olukemi Adeyoju of Social Behavioural Communication Change, SBCC, made the revelations during a bi-annual advocacy focused media meeting on global fund malaria accountability and advocacy project organized by Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunization and Nutrition, ACOMIN, in Kaduna on Friday.

The duo, who participated at the ‘focus media meeting at state level,’ while responding to newsmen, said, with emphasis, that many have actually died silently of malaria fever at home without going for test in hospital for fear of being misunderstood for Covid-19 symptoms.

They noted that in Malaria-ravaging country like Nigeria, many communities have shied away from going to health facilities for malaria test, also for fear of contacting Covid-19, while some are afraid of quarantine when tested positive to Malaria.

“What’s prominent now is Covid-19. But, it’s very important to let people to be aware of malaria. And that is why a lot of people are actually dying now of malaria, not Covid-19.

“And, do you know why they are dying? The symptoms of Covid-19 and malaria are very similar; so, they don’t want to go to health facilities for test. We’re encouraging them to go, but they’ll prefer self-medication, and that’s mortality, death. 

“They don’t want to go for test because the symptoms are similar. The fear is that, if it’s not malaria, it’ll be something else. When they see the symptoms they get scared, thinking it’s Covid-19. They don’t want to go to facilities and get tested, because they don’t want to be isolated. 

“Health workers are also running away from patients because, if they see the signs they get scared because they can’t handle it. That’s why we have to work closely with the media. A woman died recently. So, I would like to suggest that government puts more efforts on malaria testing than Covid-19,” they said.

Earlier, the state Programme Officer of ACOMIN for Kaduna state, Mr Ogidi Nicodemus, said ACOMIN is a national network of civil society organizations working with 5 local government areas and 15 community-based organizations, CBOs, in Kaduna State, a statement that was corroborated by his state chairman of ACOMIN.

Mr. Ogidi said as part of national efforts to address the challenges of malaria in Nigeria, ACOMIN has been engaged by Catholic Relief Services, CRS, under the ongoing Global Fund Malaria Grant to implement the civil society component, with focus on accountability for commodity utilization, value for money, budgetary appropriation and human resource development.

ACOMIN, according to Mr Ogidi Nicodemus, has recorded many achievements in Kaduna State through advocacy since established in May, 2019.

The representative of the 15 CBOs at the media collaborative meeting on Friday, however, tabled some complaints, ranging from shortage of staff in health facilities and poor infrastructures, among others, and recommended that environmental sanitary officers be reintroduced to enforce environmental sanitation laws to reduce incidents of mosquito-induced malaria in dirty homes or introduce compulsory and penalty for any families caught not using mosquito nets henceforth. 

He said the core essence of the ACOMIN media meeting is to ensure improved funding for Malaria Support through advocacy in Kaduna and other focal states in Nigeria.

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