Fight against malaria in Africa: Prof. Ousmane Koita sends a message to Nigeria

DVC Research and Development > Fight against malaria in Africa: Prof. Ousmane Koita sends a message to Nigeria
Professor Ousmane Koita, a molecular biologist and director of the Centre for Global Health Research (CRS-Globale), has urged Nigeria to take the lead in the fight against malaria in Africa to completely eradicate the disease on the continent.

Speaking at a public conference on “Prospects for Malaria Eradication in Sub-Saharan Africa”, held on Monday, April 8, in Nigeria, Ousmane Koita highlighted the burden of malaria parasites in Africa.

In 2022, more than 233 million Africans contracted malaria, unfortunately resulting in 580,000 deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Nigeria tops the list of countries with the highest number of malaria-related deaths in the world with a score of 31.1%.

Malaria deaths statistics in 2022 according to WHO

In the face of this scourge, “we must urgently prioritise the elimination of malaria and address the challenges ahead so that Nigeria and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa can be free from this disease,” said Ousmane Koita at the conference, which marked the 90th birthday of Professor Sylvanus Cookey, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) in Nigeria.

Prof. Koita called for increased collaboration between the Nigerian government and other regional governments, as well as strong political commitment to combat malaria.

“We need to ensure that every African and every family can test for malaria on their own, without having to go to health centres,” he said.

For Ousmane Koita, simple malaria can be treated in a family setting, because every adult has already experienced at least one episode of malaria. Parents therefore have the experience to identify a suspicion of malaria, and this suspicion can be confirmed by a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) performed by a family member after a short training.

“We therefore call on the political and health authorities to support the local production of RDTs so that they are available in every family. Then, by following the national treatment regimen, families will be able to treat positive cases and thus contribute to the fight against malaria by adhering to the triptych “screen-diagnose-treat”.

At the conference, Ousmane Koita also advocated for increased funding for malaria control programmes and a more effective action plan to implement malaria research policies in the sub-region.

“Governments must allocate funds to the fight against malaria, recognising that it is not a European or American problem, but an African problem that requires African solutions,” he concluded.