World Malaria Day: Expert advocates improved data collation on testing

Co-Chair of Roll Back Malaria Partnership Case Management Working Group, Professor Olugbenga Mokuolu, has called for urgent improvement in Nigeria’s malaria data to reflect a realistic figure of the disease.

He made the appeal during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Lagos in ahead of the World Malaria Day commemoration.

World Malaria Day, celebrated annually on April 25, highlights global efforts to end malaria, the need for sustained political commitment and continued investment in malaria control and elimination.

The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Accelerating the fight against malaria for a more equitable world’.

Mokuolu also emphasised the need to strengthen the culture of diagnostic testing before the treatment of malaria to document true cases.

He said, “In a situation where we continue to practice empirical treatment for all fever, we are going to create a false record that exaggerates the number of malaria cases.

“If 10 people come in with fever, there’s a tendency for a health worker who didn’t conduct a test on the patient to diagnose seven for malaria, and that’s what the record would reflect.

“But if you test, you will be surprised that maybe two or a maximum four out of the 10 test positive for malaria.”

Mokuolu, who is the Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare on Malaria, noted that more in-country information had been gathered due to the entomological monitoring that was set up.

He explained, “Now better data is emerging and helping us understand vector bionomic that’s overall behaviour around the vector.

”With such understanding, we can better target our interventions to where it will make the most impact.”

Mokuolu said efforts are being made to optimise and recalibrate existing tools and adopt new tools in terms of technical and strategic approaches.

According to him, integrating a multisectoral approach in the malaria response had become crucial to achieving an impactful intervention.

He said, “Multisectoral approach has become critical in our response – the Ministry of Agriculture has as much stake as the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Environment is as critical as any drug we will use to treat malaria.”

The Mokuolu stressed that malaria had taken quite a toll on people and acknowledged that several efforts had been made to put it under control.

He, however, said malaria had continued to endanger health and impose high costs on national economies where it was prevalent.

“It’s a disease that has perpetrated the vicious cycle of inequality, impacting children under five, pregnant women, refugees, and internally displaced persons.

“We must be deliberate to ensure these vulnerable populations are reached and covered as an affirmation of their inclusion in our world,” he advised.

The expert noted that primary healthcare centres are being strengthened across the country to prevent, detect and reduce the burden of the disease.

He lamented that budgetary allocation to malaria had been low at the federal and state levels, and called for improved funding to stimulate progress.

Mokuola disclosed that there were assurances from the federal government to improve the 2025 budget allocation for the fight against malaria.

Also speaking, Consultant Medical Parasitologist, Professor Wellington Oyibo, said research done by his team across the country showed that primary source data on malaria at health facilities were not accurate.

He lamented that over-diagnosis and over-treatment of malaria were prevalent in health facilities nationwide, as all fevers are treated as malaria.

This, he noted brings about strong economic and life-threatening effects on patients and communities.

The parasitologist suggested the training and supervision of healthcare workers improve the quality of data analysed and reviewed for targeted intervention


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