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71% of Nigerians Have No Malaria Parasite Antigen – Study

A new study has unraveled that 71.49% of people who go to drug stores to buy antimalarial medicines for self-medication are only wasting their money as they had no Malaria parasite antigen in their blood stream, though unaware of it.  Malaria is a risk for 97% of Nigeria’s population. The remaining 3% of the population live in the malaria free highlands. There are an estimated 100 million malaria cases with over 300,000 deaths per year in Nigeria.

 

Self medication with anti-malarial drugs is one of the commonest forms of self medication in Nigeria. A major concern of the indiscriminate consumption of Malaria medications is counterfeiting. In 2011, 64% of anti-malarial medicines circulating in Nigeria were reported to be substandard, according a study published in the lancet. A new study published in Texila American University International Journal of Public Health, revealed that a whopping 71.49% of participants purchasing anti-malarial medicines in drug stores for self-medication had no Malaria parasite antigen in their blood stream.

 

The study, which was conducted in Nigeria, was supervised by a team led by the Executive Director, Public Health Nigeria, Oche Joseph Otorkpa, a fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health UK. The study recommended that policy makers in the public health sector take a second look at self-medication in malaria treatment with a view to providing frameworks, guidelines or laws to further streamline the practice and sales of malaria drugs for self- medication.

 

The study further recommended public sensitization on the financial loss, health hazards and clinical complications associated with self-medication practices as well as increased availability of rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits, hinting on the possibility of self-testing with RDT as a prerequisite for purchase of anti-malarial medications in the near future. It could be recalled that on April 25, 2000 African heads of states met in Abuja to express commitment to the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative having recognized the public health and economic burden the disease has placed on the continent as well as the barrier it constitutes to development and poverty alleviation.

 

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