By Olapade Agoro
It is on record that the United States has a record of about 1,700 malaria fever cases every year from immigrants and travellers returning from countries where the disease is more common. The symptom is a serious and sometimes life-threatening tropical disease that spreads through parasites just like coronavirus. Records have it that it kills more than 445,000 people a year, many of them children in Africa. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is also an infectious disease caused by what the experts termed a new virus.
The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it.
With the emerging news of upsurge of coronavirus in highly populated towns and areas like Lagos and FTC Abuja, the need for cause examination of malaria/coronavirus relativity becomes a compelling necessity if in reality prevention will be found.
Statistics shows that in the year 2018, Nigeria accounted for 25 percent of malaria fever cases worldwide, becoming the highest record in any country with occurrence in more than 100 countries and territories. Clustering of people in a thickly mass populated area like Lagos metropolis must no doubt encourage mosquito bites, which spread the malaria fever among the people.
The highly welcome suggestion of Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health on expansion of testing criteria on COVID- 19 to include cases with fever and respiratory tract symptoms but also all persons with fever respiratory tract symptoms must be an attractive approach to the menacing health problem currently confronting humanity.
The fact must be faced that coronavirus is a foreign disease imported to Nigeria with yet unknown cure whilst malaria is better known to Nigerians with known cure.
One is of the strong opinion that Nigeria having rightly been acclaimed to be malaria conqueror of the world should have prompted our researchers, experts and institutions coming up with Malaria drugs capable at least also being applicable to treat coronavirus.
If it took U.S President Donald Trump little or no time to reason that our already known malaria drug in Nigeria, chloroquine is capable of addressing coronavirus menace, nothing should have stopped us as a nation, accounting for 25 percent of malaria cases world wide coming up with a solution on the matter. Coronavirus epidemic has thrown the world economic and productive manufacturing off balance, informing unprecedented restrictive trade policies. Experience, we are told, is the best teacher.
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde incidentally, was one of those who went into the coronavirus’ lion’s den and came out well, hale and hearty. The experience of such person could be promptly tapped on what drugs and solutions he used to treat himself.
To borrow the words of our amiable Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele: “Although these developments are troubling, they present a clear opportunity to re- echo a persistent message the Central Bank of Nigeria has been sending for a long time, and at this time even more urgently so. We must look inwards as a nation and guarantee food security, high quality and affordable health care, and cutting edge education for our people.”
Now with threatening global recession and food, drugs, medicine imports getting restricted what should a nation like Nigeria with no plan for self reliance do? COVID -19 symptoms seems to be a sister to malaria fever, our field of expertise, this is an opportunity for Nigeria to prove our prowess, not only in meeting health challenges, but to providing solutions to our other healthcare problems.
The battle of wit on how to find a cure for COVID-19 with the method we have been using for years to cure malaria, acute malaria and related diseases etc. ought now to be deployed to tell the whole what Nigerians are capable of.
*Agoro, Aladura Patriarch, is the Owa’Tapa of Itapa Ijesha and former presidential candidate, National Action Council (NAC).
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