This submission came in our mailbox in response to the recent blog article titled: Who told Yakubu Gowon that Malaria is our problem in Imo State?.
The writer, Ahjoku Amadi-Obi MBBS, FRCS is a Surgeon and , Scientist based in Maryland, USA. He states why Malaria / Mosquitoes should be taken more seriously than Kidnapping. Please read .
I read, with some trepidation, your cavalier response to Gowon’s attempts to draw attention to the Malaria problem in Imo State. I am an avid reader of your blog as I consider it perhaps one of the better commentaries on current affairs in Imo State. I may not always agree with you but I find your blog entertaining and sometimes informative. I do not usually comment on blogs however I take exception to your comments and have decided to respond both to clarify this issue and to draw attention to the rather pitiable public health situation in Imo State and Nigeria in general.
The most recent data on the incidence of Malaria in Imo State by Ohalete and others in Imo state University shows an ALARMING 75-86% OF PREGNANT WOMEN in Imo State carry the Malaria parasite in their blood and another study by Ukaga and others also from Imo State university showed that 29% of pregnant women in Imo State HAD THE MALARIA PARASITE IN THEIR PLACENTA potentially compromising the life of unborn children.
To put this in perspective approximately 45% of the 3000 women studied by Ohalete’s group spent an average of 3000 Naira to treat themselves amounting to a total of 4 million Naira spent by this group alone.
If you extrapolate this figure to include all pregnant women in Imo State you will realize that the figure will run into Billions. If you figure in lost productivity and expand that to include other cases of Malaria in non-pregnant women, men and children the total loss in Naira boggles the mind and can easily exceed tens of billions. Another study done by Ayodele Jimoh and his group in University of Ilorin shows that the ECONOMIC BURDEN OF MALARIA REPRESENTS 12% OF NIGERIA’S GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP).
Another factor to consider is that the most devastating consequences of Malaria occur in the most vulnerable in our society. The highest incidence of severe malaria occurs in children less than 5 years old. A particularly devastating form of Malaria known as cerebral Malaria occurs almost exclusively in this age group.
The consequences of this form of Malaria include long lasting brain damage leading to delayed development poor performance in school and consequently sub-optimal levels of productivity across a lifespan. The fact that these young ones represent our future should give pause for thought on the prospect for development of our nation. More disturbing is the observation by Orimadegun and his group in University College Ibadan that severe Malaria appears to be rising in Nigeria.
Please note that I do not underestimate the consequences of kidnapping and other security concerns on Imo State. In fact I think the consequences of this security situation may well rival Malaria in terms of the economic burden. However Malaria has been with us long before kidnapping became prevalent and I believe that, like 419, it will disappear with time and the scourge of Malaria will still be with us. So, I say kudos to Rochas and Gowon, for their efforts in tackling these and other public health. And besides think Gowon has done enough with his efforts in public health to earn both respect and admiration from most us. I hope my missive brings some attention to the very urgent need for healthcare facilities in Nigeria.
Ahjoku Amadi-Obi MBBS, FRCS is a Surgeon, Scientist and Co-Founder of Health Empowerment Africa Inc.