Health workers in Nigeria waste thousands of expensive malaria drugs prescribing them to patients who do not have malaria, a new research by experts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has revealed.

About 5,000 health workers working in public health facilities, pharmacies and drug stores from 40 communities in Enugu State were involved in the research.

According to the study, patients are often given malaria drugs based on their signs and symptoms, contrary to standard recommendations by the World Health Organisation that patients’ blood should be tested for the presence of malaria parasites before confirmed cases are treated with Artemisin-based Combination Therapy.

Some of the implications of treating without testing, according to the investigators, are disability, death, adverse drug reactions, malaria parasite becoming resistant to the drug and drug failure.

My lecturer once said that malaria is an over emphasised diagnosis, evidently because of the way health care personnel, especially doctors, reach a diagnosis and onward prescription of anti malaria medication.

The excerpt, culled from The Punch News, is about a study that is not shocking, considering the proliferation of quakes, who stand in as professionals, in rural as well as urban centre.

According to the World Health Organisation, a diagnosis of malaria can only be reached after confirming the presence of plasmodium parasites in the blood sample of a patient. Managers of hospital facilities at the rural centres, should make available the Malaria Rapid Test kit, if a standard laboratory is not within reach.

However, what is the current practice is that prescriptions are made based on a false assumption that ‘every fever is a malaria fever’. So, for every fever that is reported a corresponding dose of antimalarials is swallowed. This is the truth.

A typical Nigerian sees himself as a doctor, especially when it comes to some symptoms like fever and headache. Like putting the cart before the horse, anti-malarials are first administered, while blood samples are collected and sent for analysis, last. Irony?!!!

The UNN Study should be an eye opener, especially for those health workers who practice the wrong thing, especially as regards patients care. To avoid the Plasmodium falciparum parasites getting resistant against the current recommended combination therapy, Artemisin-based Combination Therapy (ACTs), prescription without confirming the presence of parasites in blood MUST STOP!!! The economic and health impact of this distorted trend, must be halted.





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