Nigeria: That PLoS ONE Report On Fake Malaria Drugs | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria: That PLoS ONE Report On Fake Malaria Drugs

Posted: Jun 4, 2015 at 12:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

It is highly disturbing to learn from a recently – conducted research that substandard malaria drugs are prevalent in Nigeria. This reprehensible action is a crass demonstration of the greed of some criminals who want to be rich overnight by hook or by crook. We condemn this act of man’s inhumanity to man in its entirety. The study by PLOS ONE, the world’s first multidisciplinary Open Access journal, says that Nigeria is the biggest malaria-infested country in the world with 48 million cases and 180,000 deaths per year. Ironically, the anti- malaria drugs found in the country, particularly in Enugu, a city in the eastern part of the country, are either falsified, or of poor quality, or degraded or substandard.  This, obviously, is a major reason the disease has been showing resistance to the main drugs administered on patients for treatment.  It also explains the high figure of malaria carriers in Nigeria. According to the World Health Organization, WHO, Malaria is a risk for 97 per cent of Nigeria’s population. This is worrisome.

We wonder why the fight against fake drugs appears to be moribund in Nigeria now, unlike in the days of the late Professor Dora Akunyili, when the entire country knew that there was war against their marketers. Akunyili’s concentration was on the same eastern part of the country where fake drugs were rampant and the unscrupulous marketers were subdued. Now they have come back.  Meanwhile, Nigerians have been told time and again that malaria is deadly and kills more than any other known disease in the country. Incidentally, fake drugs are not less deadly than the substandard ones. That is the reason the offence attracts capital punishment in some parts of the world. Hawking fake drugs is one of the greatest sins against humanity, for the drugs kill in large numbers. They kill indiscriminately as far as they can reach.

In 2005, the Federal Government of Nigeria, FGN, introduced National Anti-Malaria Treatment Policy under Professor Eyitayo Lambo as Health Minister. The programme contained a treatment policy whose objectives were to reduce morbidity; halt the projection of uncomplicated cases into complicated ones, thereby reducing malaria mortality; minimize the development of anti-malaria drug resistance; among others. The strategy for the implementation of the national malaria treatment policy was that of roll back malaria, RBM, where government and communities came together in partnership to implement malaria control interventions. The positive outcome of the exercise should be sustained, or revived if dead. In 2014, the FGN was in partnership with the Carter Centre to eliminate malaria and lympathic filariasis from the country. They strove to tackle the two diseases through health education, distribution of long-lasting insecticide bednets and mass drug administration. This collaborative effort will be jeopardized with the prevalence of fake and substandard drugs if government does not take a drastic step to stem the tide.

We call on our health institutions to be alive to their responsibilities. But the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, should be strengthened to ensure that we have a malaria-free society. It is also important that Nigerians patronise only certified pharmaceutical stores. Lack of drugs in hospitals raises a serious concern about the country’s drive toward eradicating malaria from society. Government’s intervention is required in the area of procuring drugs for the hospitals where most of their pharmacies are dry.