Malaria: Are we winning the fight?

Malaria
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As the country approaches the World Malaria Day 2019, it is imperative to review the success or otherwise of the fight against malaria in Nigeria so far.

According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General World Health Organization in World Malaria Report 2018, “there are two findings that I find particularly worrying: first, several countries that carry a disproportionate burden of disease have reported increases in malaria cases, setting us back even further; and second, the level of investment in malaria control remains inadequate”.  We must not forget to mention that Nigeria carries a quarter of the World‘s malaria burden. Nigeria accounts for 19% of the World’s malaria-related death according to the report.

One key area critical to the fight against malaria is the availability and accessibility of antimalaria drugs. Even if these drugs can prevent or cure malaria, how available are they? In a research carried out by Pharma Project Consulting Services Limited among 96 wholesalers and 316 retail outlets, a total of 137 brands of antimalarial drugs were seen on the shelves in Lagos. About 60 percent of outlets visited are registered Pharmacy outlets while 40% were Patient Medicine Dealers.

Lonart has 96percent coverage in Lagos occupying the first position while Lokmal occupies the tenth position with 57percent coverage.  Coartem has the second widest coverage in Lagos with coverage of 89%. Amartem Forte has 86% coverage while P-Alaxin shares the third position with Amartem Forte. The last 100 brands of antimalaria studied had 5% coverage of Lagos State. This implies that the popular brands are found everywhere despite the high cost while the more cost-effective ones are not available in about 95% of the 28 different areas of Lagos.

 Lonart is also found to be the most stocked antimalaria drug in Lagos. A total of 2,112 packs of Lonart (representing 18% of total number of antimalaria packs in Lagos) were found on the shelves in Lagos. In the second place was P-Alaxin with a total number of 1,192 (10%). Amartem Forte is in the third position with 830 packs found on the shelves as at the time of the survey. The quantity stocked indicates the level of usage and this further confirms that the popular brands are still the once most utilized. The detailed report is available on the website of Pharma Project Consulting Services Limited.

If antimalaria drugs (especially ACT) are going to make significant impact on the fight against malaria as planned, the distribution and availability of the products must occupy the front burner of discussion in our drive to reduce to zero the malaria-related death by 2020.

Pharmacist Yemi Akinsola

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