Some medical experts in Kaduna said on Friday that the current deaths in the state were largely due to the scourge of Malaria, as patients fear to go to hospitals because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The briefing was on Global Fund Malaria Accountability and Advocacy Project organised by Civil Society in Malaria Control, immunisation and Nutrition, (ACOMIN) held in Kaduna on Friday. The duo who attended the ‘focus media meeting at state level’, while responding to newsmen, said many have died silently of Malaria fever in their various homes out of fear of going for the test in hospital and be misunderstood for COVID-19.
They noted that in a Malaria ravaged country like Nigeria, many communities have shied away from going to health facilities or hospital for Malaria test. According to them, the fear is that while on the test they could contract COVID-19 and be quarantined even if they test positive to Malaria or something else.
“What’s prominent now is COVID-19, but it is very important to let people to be aware of Malaria and that is why a lot of people are actually dying now of malaria, not COVID-19. ” And do you know why they are dying, the symptoms of COVID-19 and malaria are very similar, so they don’t want to go to health facilities for the test. “We’re encouraging them to go but they’ll prefer self-medication and that’s mortality, death. “They don’t want to go for a test because the symptoms are similar. The fear is that if it is not malaria, it’ll be something else. “When they see the symptoms they get scared thinking it is COVID-19, they don’t want to go to the facilities and get tested because they don’t want to be isolated.”
The duo noted that even health workers were also running away from patients out of fear. them because if they see the signs they would be scared because they cannot handle it. “We will like to suggest that the government put more efforts on Malaria testing than COVID-19,” Earlier, the State Programme Officer of ACOMIN, Mr Ogidi Nicodemus said the national network of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) is working with five local government areas and 16 Community Based Organisations, (CBOs) in Kaduna State.
He said as part of national efforts to address the challenges of Malaria in Nigeria, ACOMIN had been engaged by Catholic Relief Services, under the ongoing Global Fund Malaria grant to implement the civil society component, with focus on accountability for commodity utilisation, value for money, budgetary appropriation and Human resource development. According to Nicodemus, ACOMIN has recorded some five achievements in Kaduna State through advocacy since it was established in May 2019. The CBOs Kaduna representatives at the media collaborative meeting, however, tabled some complaints ranging from a shortage of staff in health facilities to poor infrastructures among others.
It also recommended that environmental Sanitary officers be reintroduced to enforce environmental sanitation to reduce incidences of mosquito induced malaria in dirty homes. The organisation canvassed for a penalty against any family found not using treated mosquito nets henceforth. It also sought for improved funding for Malaria control in the state.