By Lawal Dahiru Mamman
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria typically causes fever, tiredness, vomiting, and headaches.
Malaria can cause jaundice, seizures, coma, or death in severe cases. It is spread exclusively through bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. The mosquito bite introduces the parasites from the mosquito’s saliva into a person’s blood. Then, the parasites travel to the liver, where they mature and reproduce.
Malaria is a disease that has bedevilled and is still bedevilling the human race, with a high level of incidence in African countries. The worry is that malaria is preventable and treatable but still affects millions all year round. According to the World Health Organisation, 627,000 people died from the disease, leaving another 241,000,000 infected in 2021.
To curb the menace of this disease, the government is spending a lot, the international community is donating, and non-governmental organisations are helping to see that the world is free from malaria.
This is mainly done by purchasing insecticide-treated mosquito nets, insecticides of different brands, seasonal malaria chemo-prevention and antimalarial drugs in case of infection.
Families also do their due diligence in ensuring that houses are spread with insecticides to kill mosquitoes and that they all sleep in the comfort and protection of mosquito nets. However, all these will not be enough if the little things are not addressed because after all the efforts indoors, you go out of the house only to find out that those tiny beasts are lurking around to feast on you.
Of the over 3,500 species of mosquitoes, three, anopheles, culex, and Aedes, are primarily of economic importance because they are disease vectors. Anopheles carries a microorganism which causes malaria ‘plasmodium’ and other species to reproduce on standing water and complete a live cycle within 18 days or above, depending on the species.
Looking at this biology, we have so many mosquitoes around that can be deciphered; hence, to eradicate malaria, our drainage systems must be functional and provided in areas that lack them to prevent water from lodging, which invariably provides a breeding ground for the parasites.
Residents should fill up areas with stagnant water, cut grasses close to their houses and resist dumping refuse in drainages and water bodies to allow free flow.
Communities should be informed about the dangers of dumping refuse in the drainages because, besides exposing themselves to the threat of flooding and its aftermath, blocked drainages are a good ground for mosquitoes to breed since water does not flow through.
A plant that repels mosquitoes should replace some of our ornamental flowers. A study published in Malaria Journal in 2011 titled ‘Plant-based Insect Repellents: A Review of their Efficacy, Development and Testing’ revealed that lemon grass alone could either kill or repel about 95% of certain species of mosquitoes. Likewise, trees like Cinnamon could be used as shelter belts because they can repel insects, mosquitoes inclusive. Further studies could be carried out on other indigenous plant species in order to find if they possess properties that will help eradicate mosquitoes.
Eradication of malaria may seem challenging, impossible and debilitating, but a malaria-free Nigeria is possible with a commitment to the above suggestions.
Mamman, a corps member, writes from Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.