Misuse of antimalarial drugs

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It’s another 25th of April and today marks World Malaria Day and Malaria is still one of the major health problem in Nigeria. Malaria remains a major public health issue with one third of the global population at risk of infection. In Nigeria, it accounts for more cases and death than any country in the world as 97 percent of the population is at risk of having it. One of the major reasons Malaria is still a big issue on this side of the world is the misuse of anti-malaria drugs, during a public presentation of the results of a survey titled “survey on the quality of antimalarial medicines in Nigeria 2014” by the then Director General of NAFDAC Paul Orhii, he stated that “malaria remains a huge health threat to countries in sub-Sahara Africa including Nigeria, abuse of antimalarial drugs makes one develop resistanthe strains of malaria that maybe difficult to treat even with the right medicines”.
Resistance to antimalarial drugs in patients is becoming a contemporary public health problem in Nigeria, most medical practitioners complain of how most patients that visit them have taken one antimalarial drug or the other without necessarily confirming if the have malaria or not and they only come to the hospital when the symptoms persist or there is a relapse.Some symptoms that are widely used as indicators for malaria are fever, headache and tiredness are not significantly associated with malaria.The need to improve access to diagnosis of malaria should be explored to ensure that clients that patronise retail drug stores are tested before being sold antimalarial drugs. Without prior testing, malaria is likely to be over treated and sometimes it might not even be malaria as there are other illnesses that have symptoms similar to that of malaria and without necessary diagnosis such cases can not be confirmed.
In 2009, the WHO recommended parasitology cake confirmation for all suspected cases of malaria before treatment. This recommendation was implemented by the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health with the activation of Malaria Diagnosis and Treatment Policy and the Malaria Diagnosis and Treatment Guidelines. The policy is more operational in public health facilities and some private health facilities. Some of the consequences of presumptive use of antimalarial could delay intervention in non-malarial febrile illness as patients may not receive the appropriate treatment for their condition which could be very dangerous as the condition could worsen also, resistance to antimalarial drugs is very dangerous because when such person is actually infected with malaria, the antimalarial drug given might not be effective.
In Nigeria the current regulatory policy on patent and propriety medicine vendors (PPMV) does not permit them perform minimal invasive procedure which include performance of malaria test that requires finger picking to collect blood, if this could be lifted the prevalence rate of misuse of antimalarial drugs would reduce as most people are customers to these over-the-counter counter drug vendors. Continuous sensitization of the populace is also needed especially for people in the rural areas where these patent medicine vendors are mostly found on the dangers of antimalarial drug misuse. The PPMV as a body should also be given appropriate drug education so they can be aware of the effect of their action on their clients and be visited unannounced to ensure they comply with what they have been told.
With all these being said always look out for the scratch code on the pack of the drugs you buy and ensure you scratch it and send the code to the appropriate number to save ourselves from being victims of fake drugs.

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