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Why World Malaria Day Celebration is significant – Dr. Leghemo speaks .Uncovers how malaria kills

                        By Inegbagha Majesty FCIDA

Dr. Kesiye .T. Leghemo is the Bayelsa Sate Program Manager for the State Malaria Elimination Programme, Ministry of Health. In this exclusive interview with the Editor of Global Overseer, the renowned medical Doctor bares his mind on sundry issues regarding malaria and its consequences.
He spoke on the significant of World Malaria Day Celebration scheduled to hold on Wednesday 25th of April, 2018.
The humble, experience and exemplary assiduous medical Doctor also spoke on how malaria kills, the causes and preventive measures and how we can unanimously work as a team to perfectly eradicate malaria in the state among other vital issues. Excerpt:
Dr. Kesiye .T. Leghemo, Bayelsa Sate Program Manager for the State Malaria Elimination Programme
 Bayelsa State will join the rest of the world to celebrate World Malaria Day on April, 25. What is this day all about?
The 2018 World Malaria Day would be celebrated on the 25th of April, 2018. The World Malaria Day is frequently celebrated every year on the 25th of April. It is an avenue where the world showcases, especially health community try to create more awareness about the burdens, the problems associated with malaria. So, we try to increase advocacy; increase sensitization about issues surrounding malaria so that we gather partnership, we gather commitment by government; commitment by the various critical stakeholders especially the Roll Back Malaria Stakeholders on how to move the country towards elimination of malaria; and globally towards eradication of malaria in the world.
How does this celebration started?
World Malaria Day Celebration started long time ago. The World Health Assembly, which is an arm of the World Health Organization decided to use April 25 every year as a day set aside to mark this World Malaria Day. Because when you mark a day you create significance to that day, that people realized that there is an importance attach to it. It is a day set aside by the World Health Assembly to hold government and the countries accountable towards the mass eradication of malaria.  
Why is this celebration significance?
It is significance because it is time where every critical stakeholder in the elimination of malaria will come together and assess the work we are doing so far in the elimination of malaria and know the challenges; see where there have been issues and try to solve them together so that the government will come together, the private sector will come together, individuals will come together and even the medical people will come together. Everybody is involved in this fight against malaria. So, we want everybody to come together and assess where we are. Because malaria is a preventable disease, it is accruable disease and it is a treatable disease. So, we should be able to eliminate malaria. There is 2014 to 2030 plan for elimination of malaria in Nigeria. So, we need to know where we are even in our set plan of Nigeria Malaria Strategic Plan. We need to know where we are in the National Malaria Strategic Plan that we have set which will expire in 2030. But we need to know where we are currently.
What is your message to Bayelsans with regards to this celebration?
Now, the Theme for this year celebration is “Ready to Beat Malaria Together We Can”. So, my message to Bayelsans and everyone is we need to join hands to beat malaria. Malaria is treatable, it is preventable and it is curable. So, everybody can join hand by simply making sure that we all sleep inside the Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Net which is commonly known as Mosquitoes Net. We should always test before treating any fever because not every fever is malaria. But before you treat make sure you test. When you confirm that you have malaria before you treat for malaria. And every pregnant woman should register for Anti-natal so that she is giving drugs that will prevent her from having malaria. And also she will be giving net that will help her prevent malaria. When we do some of these simple things, clear our environment, prevent stagnant water so that there is less breeding ground for mosquitoes, then we are moving towards eliminating malaria especially in Bayelsa State.  
What actually causes malaria?
Malaria is a parasitic disease. It is caused by the parasite plasmodium. Now, plasmodium is transmitted to human being from the female anopheles mosquito. So, when the female anopheles mosquito that is infected with this plasmodium parasite bite a human being is now transmits the parasite to individuals. Now, there are four types of plasmodium parasite. We have the plastimodium falciparum, plastimodium vivax, plastimodium malariae and plastimodium ovale. Now, there is also current newer one which is call plastimodium knowlensi. So, it is quite new but also seen in monkeys too. But it is not common around here. It is common in South East Asia. It is suffice to say that 95 percent of the malaria we have in Nigeria and Bayelsa state is caused by the plastimodium falciparum which is the one that can cause severe malaria most times. So because if you don’t treat malaria once you begin to see these symptoms, you will become severe leading to death.
How does malaria kill?
Now, malaria kills simply it affects the blood cells. It affects the blood cells and reduced the quantity and level and concentration of blood in the individual.
Also, there is a reaction in the fever. If you have a lot of fever, fever alone can cause dehydration and everything. So, some of the severe forms of malaria is unconsciousness. So, someone can become unconscious because of malaria. So, that is why we need to treat them promptly.
So some of these things, once we treat promptly we will avoid death especially in children and pregnant women. Now, for pregnant women it affects the placenta that link the baby.  For the woman it causes anaemia (shortage of blood). And once there is shortage of blood it causes, of course it can lead you to death because there is poor blood supply to the person and to the baby. So, it can lead to the death of the mother. It can lead to the death of the baby as well.
Now, it can also cause low birth weight for the baby. Now it can also cause death of the baby. The woman will pregnant while delivering the baby will die in the womb. Those are the challenges we don’t want to happen; pregnant women and children.
Can you throw more light on what possible ways this malaria can be prevented?
We can prevent malaria simple, first of all by making sure our environment is clean. By making sure that there is no breeding ground for mosquito by clearing the buses around us. By making sure there is no stagnant waters around us which a breeding ground for mosquitoes. When we successfully done that we need to ensure that our houses are screened. That is our windows and doors are screened with net that prevent mosquitoes from entering it. Then I said earlier we can prevent malaria by using mosquito net. What they called the Long Lasting Treated Insecticide net. Then we need to sleep inside the mosquito net every night consistently. That way will be preventive to malaria.
On your inception to office as the State Programme Manager on Malaria Elimination in the State, what is your office doing to prevent malaria in Bayelsa state?
Thank you very much. Since we resumed office we have taking a lot of drastic measures to prevent malaria in the state. One of the things we have been doing currently, we are ensuring that people are well enlightened about the issues surrounding malaria; about the burden of malaria is a big issue. It is causing about the death of over four hundred thousand (400,000) people. So, we have gone round to about 40 communities now, down to the villages to insecticide them and to have community meetings with these communities to know about using mosquito nets and clearing their environment as well as making sure they sleep inside mosquito net every time to prevent malaria and telling them the dangers about it. We have also in the past period distributed about 18,600 mosquito nets to various communities especially pregnant women and under five years of age children. We have done that within the period in June, July and December during the Maternal and Child Health Week in last year.
For this year, we intend to distribute more nets. But, beyond the distributing the nets what we are going to do is we are going to send trained workers into their communities for people who own these nets. Because most people own these nets and they are not using it. So, we are going to train people to go into the communities to ask them if they are using the net. And if they are not using the nets they should teach them more on why they need to use it and support them to hang these nets as well as to use these nets. So, those are the things that we have been doing. Take for instance for this 2018 was malaria day that is coming up on Wednesday. Now, we have created…………….competition as you sees in my office. We have lot of entries. We have received over seventy entries from about twenty (20) schools. Now, the essence of that is that we are training the younger ones to learn issues about malaria and the issues on the prevention and treatment to interpret it in their own ways.
So, you have people building houses, building native houses, molding houses, drawing pictures showing how to prevent malaria; showing the problems that can result from malaria. So, they are there educated. So, they well informed. So, they will pass this message to their parents, to their sisters, to their brothers and they will spread the message. On other thing we have done is that we have done a workshop for media personnel so that they have the capacity to disseminate key malaria messages. So, they are able to reach out to wider audiences. So, when they now have that capacity they are able to disseminate the right key malaria message to their audience. The audience of the media is very enormous and very broad. So, that is why we are able to train them. And we are happy by the feedback we are getting because they are now comfortable in talking about the issues surrounding malaria especially mosquito to the use of mosquito net and debunking the reasons why people don’t use those nets.
Along the line, what are your challenges and way forward?
Government is doing a whole lot and has been doing alone. But you see the resources of government are not infinite. So, those are the regular challenges of funding. But one of the challenges is that we want people, individuals, and corporate bodies to involve in the fight against the elimination of malaria. We want the people to see the battle against malaria as a collective responsibility. It is not a fight to the Ministry of Health or the Commissioner of Health alone. To eliminate malaria in Bayelsa state involves every one of us, like the Theme for our year says “Together we can if we are ready to beat malaria”. So, Theme is if we are ready to beat malaria together we can. So, if we are ready every one of us needs to play our part. We want every individual to play his or her own part.
Apart from sleeping in insecticide treated mosquito net every night, what other measures can you suggest to eliminate malaria perfectly within Bayelsa state vicinity? 
There are other measures we can take to eliminate malaria. They are very expensive. One of them is what we call it indoor room spraying on the wall of houses. But is very capital intensive project that you don’t just do it in one local government. We need to do it in a minimum of two, three local government. It is capital intensive. We also have other things like lab. Another very key aspect of preventing malaria is that the human own is the reservoir of the parasite.
So, if everybody that has malaria goes for prompt testing and treatment and you treat adequately, then the concentration of the parasite will be reduce. So, even if mosquito bites you, if you don’t have malaria, you will not take up malaria for your body to infect another person. One of the key things is that people must test and treat themselves adequately and eradicate malaria from their system so that you don’t transmit through the mosquito bite to another person.
  What is your last word?
My last word to everyone is that we must take responsibility for our health. So, malaria is a preventative disease, it is a treatable disease and a curable disease. So, we should always ensure that we do the things that will help prevent malaria. And together every one of us can beat and make Bayelsa state Malaria free. One, by sleeping inside the Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Net; Test before treatment and also treat with the right drugs, go to a proper place to treat when you think you have malaria and also every pregnant woman must register for Anti-natal so that they give them the right drugs to prevent malaria.
But everyone be ready to beat malaria. We are ready to eliminate malaria in Bayelsa state. So, everyone should beat malaria. And it is the burden of the Honourable Commissioner of Health Prof. Ebitimi Tula Etebu who is fighting serious to ensure that everything turn around in the health system of Bayelsa state. So, he is doing everything he can to make sure that we eradicate malaria in Bayelsa state.

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