Nigeria Malaria Control Project

Project Title: Malaria Control Project in Nigeria; Say No To Malaria in Amechi Uwani.

Project Supervisor:  Dr. Onuora Odoh, Family Physician (practicing in Houston, BC)

Students’ Participation: Available virtually.

Malaria control project in rural communities in Nigeria is a grassroots community-driven malaria control project. The project is funded by the Rural Coordination Centre, BC as a Rural Global Health Initiative. The project started in October 2019 in Amechi Uwani; a rural community in Nigeria and the title is: Say No To Malaria in Amechi Uwani. The project aims to improve health and hope for rural Nigerians that are at most risk of developing severe malaria and dying from it through provision of free, accessible, sustainable, readily available, effective and evidence-based malaria prevention and early treatment programs. The project is led by Dr. Odoh Onuora and is in keeping with WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria and USAID/Presidential Malaria Initiative.

Children less than 5 years and pregnant women in Amechi Uwani are visited at their homes every 3 months by trained project team members to provide malaria control education and administer prophylactic anti-malaria. Children up to 12 years of age that are sick and are suspected of having malaria visit the project’s designated Treatment Centre where microscopic blood film malaria test is conducted. Those with positive malaria test results are treated according to WHO guidelines. In addition to saving and improving lives, through this project, local data is being obtained on the process and effectiveness of routine malaria chemoprophylaxis for under 5 years old children and status of anti-malarial drug resistance in rural communities of Nigeria.

Malaria is an infectious life-threatening disease transmitted by mosquitoes from person to person. It is a challenging global health problem with high risk of transmission across borders. While about half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, 93- 94% (WHO 2018) of the cases and deaths occur in Africa. In 2018 alone, WHO reported about 228 million new cases, 405,000 new deaths and expenses of US$2.7 billion. People most vulnerable to severe malaria are children age 5 years and less, pregnant women and travelers from malaria non-endemic countries. About 70% of death from malaria occurs in children less than 5 years of age and is estimated that a child dies every 2 minutes from malaria in Africa.

Nigeria has the highest malaria burden in the world. 25-30% of global malaria prevalence is contributed by cases from Nigeria. The WHO World Malaria Report of 2019 noted that, unlike most other high malaria-endemic African countries, Nigeria had an absolute increase in malaria prevalence in 2018 when compared to 2017. The report also stated that in 2018, less than 30% of pregnant women in Nigeria received WHO-recommended malaria prophylaxis in pregnancy and less than 30% of sick under 5-year-old children in Nigeria that sought malaria treatment in health facilities received malaria tests. About 11% of maternal death in Nigeria results from malaria.

With globalization and frequent travels across borders, the risk of spread of malaria to countries it is rare is high. This makes malaria control a global health problem and priority. Canadians and citizens of other malaria non-endemic countries are at high risk of severe malaria and death from malaria because they lack immunity to malaria. Health professionals recommend malaria prophylaxis to Canadian travelling to malaria-endemic countries as  malaria ranks high among tropical diseases diagnosed in returned Canadian travelers.  Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are paramount in preventing Canadians from having severe malaria and dying from it. Considering this, substantial knowledge of early diagnosis and treatment of malaria are necessary clinical skills for all Canadian medical students and health care providers.

By participating in the Nigeria Malaria Control Project, UBC students will gain life-saving clinical skills required to stop globalization of malaria.  Other benefits of participating are:

-Active involvement in grassroots and global rural community health project

-Gain practical knowledge of clinical features of malaria, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

-Gain useful knowledge of socio-economic determinants of malaria and similar tropical diseases.

-Participate in research, disease surveillance and mapping activities

-Participate in developing useful and achievable strategies for rural community-based disease control project

-Develop skills and experience necessary for promoting and advocating for global health initiatives and health equity for all.

The Say No To Malaria in Amechi Uwani team is working with a local charity organization called Rural Primary Health Care Improvement Foundation to develop and implement strategies to improve, sustain and expand community-wide healthcare projects in the town. In addition to malaria control, other projects the group is working on are routine deworming and vitamin A supplementation program for children per WHO recommendation, management of common local chronic diseases and safe pregnancy care.

If you are interested in knowing more about this GHI project, contact Dr. Onuora Odoh at nicod.prayer4sure@yahoo.ca