Malaria: The mass preventable killer disease of all time

Malaria: The mass preventable killer disease of all time

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 7:42 am

File: Mosquito, causes and distributes malaria

By Rasheed Akinkuolie

Malaria is responsible for about 2 million deaths annually, most of which occur in Sub-Sahara Africa.and about 200,000 deaths in Nigeria. The economic impact of malariadue to absenteeism, declined productivity, low life expectancy and the high cost of treatment which may be in excess of 400 million USD a year in Nigeria add up tofurther depress an economy which is already challenged by bad governance.

Malaria fever is caused by parasites (plasmodium) in female mosquitoes,which ravage the red blood cells when injected into the body in the course of a mosquito bite. If left untreated, death could occur within 14 days because the body would have been overwhelmed by the parasites .. Malaria became an existential problem for the international community, especially in warm tropical countries where mosquitoes thrive in swamps and stagnant pools of water. This crisis required global effort to combat the disease such that a malaria day is an annual event to draw attention to this dreaded disease .

There was a major break throughin the fight against malaria when researchers discovered bacilluslarvicides which consume mosquito larvae only , but are harmless to humans, livestock, marine life and the environment.

The scientific isolation of two larvicides , the Bacillus Thurengensis Israeliensis H14 in the Negev Desert Israel in 1977 and the Bacillus Sphaericus 2362 at the Nigerian Institute of Trypanosomiasis, Kaduna Nigeria in 1981 was a remarkable discovery which was classified as one of the outstanding scientific breakthroughs of the century .in the fight against malaria.

Scientific tests have shown that the larvicides have 99-100 percent effectiveness in destroying mosquito larvae, with very low toxicity to humans, livestock, marine life and the environment

Larvicides have an extended life span which could be as long as six months after it had been introduced into the mosquito breeding grounds. The dead larvae further produce new spores of active bacteria which continue to consume newly developed larvae until the entire colony is free of mosquito larvae and by extension mosquitos as insects.

The first attempt at popularizing larvicides as an effective mosquito control medium was by the government of Cuba which through its Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicineproduced two larvicides: , BACTIVEC and GRISELEF in liquid suspension form with the BTI and BS 2362 as active ingredients

Cuba had since 1995 eradicated malaria in its territory and also assisted other South American, Caribbean and African countries to do the same. Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti,Ghana, Ivory Coast Angola, and several other countries have benefited from the Larvicide mosquito control system to conquer the dreaded disease.

The application of Larvicide is quite simple. It could be introduced into sewages , soak-aways, swamps and other suspected mosquito breeding grounds by environmental agencies, trained workers and households at the community , local government , state, regional and household levels.

It could also be sprayed from the air with a light aircraft or helicopter to cover remote areas which are not easily accessible by road . The latter method will cover vast territories and expedite national coverage.

The strong point about the larvicide protocol lies in the low cost, simple method of application, effectiveness, and it can be produced locally.

The second method in the mosquito eradication program isby releasing into the wild captured sterile male mosquitoes which have been sterilized by irradiation. The fruitless mating eventually lead to the extinction of the colony

This research outcome was also carried out at the Nigerian Institute of Trypanosomiasis Kaduna in the course of finding a solution to the menace of Tsetse flies and sleeping sickness. This protocol was adapted worldwide to control mosquito reproduction.and pest control

These two methods of mosquito control have the potential to replace the use of chemicals such as DDT and other pesticides which impact negatively on humans, livestock, marine life and the environment ,

The distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets nation wide in the past few years may have contributed to the reduction of malaria deaths,but clearly not a solution to the problem, but a stop gap measure for the obvious reason that the net has limited coverage within the sleeping area.

The drug therapy had also been helpful in the fight against malaria, but the high cost of treatment is beyond the reach of many families Malaria attacks could occur up to 5-8 times per individual a year in a country of over 180 million people This is a humongous and wasteful expenditure which otherwise would have been used to build schools, hospitals and other infrastructures .

The adoption of Larvicide as a mosquito control mechanism is obviously the best option in the fight against malaria and it should be added to other efforts in combating this dreaded malaria.

Ambassador Akinkuolie Rasheed was the Director of Trade and Investment in Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.and former delegate to OECD in Paris.

He can be reached via : akinkuolie.

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