In a bid to mark this year’s World Malaria Day, which is aimed at eradicating the deadly disease from Nigeria and the rest of the world, the Izon-Ibe and Miss Benikrukru Carnival Queen, Barr. Elizabeth Tonghan and Victory Mike, yesterday, embarked on a Malaria awareness campaign in the riverine communities of Benikrukru and Oporoza in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state, in a bid to raise the level of awareness on the disease.
The malaria awareness campaign train which kicked off in Benikrukru community later proceeded to Oporoza community, with the youths, women, children and men in attendance.
Addressing the gatherings in the various communities, a health official, Miss Ebi Gbakena, who accompanied the Queens during the awareness campaign, educated the people on what malaria is, how it is contacted, and ways of treatment, while also stressing on its prevention rather than cure, as she said severally, that it is the cheapest and safest way to combat the disease.
According to her, “Malaria is a disease caused by a plasmodium parasite, transmitted by the bite of an infected Anopheles Mosquito. Once an infected mosquito bites a human, the parasites multiply in the host liver before infecting and destroying the red blood cells.
“The symptoms of malaria can be severe and it usually takes 10-15 days after infection for symptoms to occur: These include cold, fever, headaches, vomiting, seizures, multiple convulsions, deep breathing, respiratory distress, etc. The disease can be diagnosed by Microscopic Laboratory testing or Rapid Diagnostic test.”
The malaria awareness campaign exercise saw the Queens embarking on environmental cleanup exercises at designated parts of the communities visited, with emphasis placed on maintaining hygienic environments, in a bid to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Addressing GbaramatuVoice during the malaria awareness campaign, the Izon-Ibe Queen, Barr. Elizabeth Tonghan said, “This World Malaria Day came with a theme, ‘Ready To Beat Malaria’ but we decide to pick a theme for the riverine people, which is, ‘Izon-Otu, What Is Your Role?’ and then to take the theme to the riverine areas to educate them as well as to do some clean ups.
“We choose the riverine communities because, research shows that malaria is popularly found in Africa. In our riverine communities, we have several challenges when it comes to the environment, so we decided to go to Gbaramatu Kingdom because of the environment, as they are surrounded by water that create breeding grounds for mosquitoes to thrive.”
Also speaking on the issue, Benikrukru Queen, Victory Mike, said “Everybody wants to be safe. Nobody wants to be infected with malaria, so everybody listened to us and accepted our gifts. After some cleaning exercise , which we did today, I believe they will also follow up with that, to ensure their environment is clean.”
The Queens later distributed free mosquito nets to the aged, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children of the communities.
The beneficiaries were very happy for the good gesture of the Queens as expressed by one Benikrukru lady, who said, “We appreciate those who distributed this material to us. Mosquito problems are a challenge to us. We are happy. These mosquito nets will help prevent mosquitoes from feeding on us. We pray that God will bless them for this kind gesture.”
Also speaking to GbaramatuVoice in Oporoza community, one Prince Tiemo Abraham said the awareness campaign is a welcome development, but pleaded with the government for the expansion of the programme, so that the majority of the people would benefit.
“It is a welcome development. I know it is an awareness campaign they are trying to carry out to make our people know more about malaria.
“Our challenges are numerous. Lack of healthcare, no doctors and the dearth of health centres. We do not have people who are qualified pharmacists. We don’t even have a competent one.
”If the government wants to embark on awareness campaign to the people on the grassroots, they should make it elaborate and at least inculcate some things about health, like drugs, medical test.” he advised.
It would be recalled that the World Malaria Day was established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2008, since then member states have earmarked April 25th as a day to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for Malaria prevention, control and eventual eradication.