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U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa/Nigeria Commemorates World Malaria Day, 2022
Every April 25, the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa/Nigeria (USAMRD-A/N) joins the rest of the world to mark World Malaria Day.
It is a day set aside to celebrate the successes achieved in the fight against malaria, while also reflecting on the challenges yet to be overcome. This year’s theme is “Harness Innovation to Reduce the Malaria Disease Burden and Save Lives.”
Malaria is a life-threatening disease that is preventable and curable. It is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. There are five parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and two of these species – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – pose the greatest threat. Here in Nigeria, almost 100% of malaria cases are caused by Plasmodium falciparum.
Through various malaria-focused interventions and programs, much progress has been made in the journey to eliminate the disease, but the fight is still far from over. The WHO World Malaria Report 2021 reported that, despite a steady decline in malaria cases and deaths since 2000, progress had been stalling since 2015 in sub-Saharan Africa.
COVID-19-related disruptions impacted it further: the estimated number of malaria cases in the region increased from 213 million to 228 million, and deaths from 534,000 to 602,000, between 2019 and 2020. Nigeria, which also witnessed increases in malaria incidence and mortality in this period, currently accounts for 26.8% of malaria cases and 31.9% of malaria deaths globally.
At USAMRD-A/N, we understand that accurate diagnosis is critical for effective treatment and elimination of malaria. That is why we have continued to build capabilities in malaria diagnosis across Nigeria through training and the development of standard operating procedures.
With support from the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, we have been able to increase and strengthen the capacities of medical laboratory scientists in malaria microscopy, rapid testing, quality assurance, and laboratory supervision.
As part of our commitment to the reduction of the malaria burden and saving lives, USAMRD-A/N is joining the State Ministries of Health in Akwa-Ibom and Benue, the National Malaria Elimination Programme, and the Nigerian Ministry of Defence in launching the National Malaria Slide Bank (NMSB) Project.
The project will produce Nigeria’s first bank of validated, domestically developed slides for malaria microscopy training, external quality assurance, and future research purposes. Access to its own slide bank will enhance Nigerian self-reliance and capability in malaria diagnosis, ending the decades-long trend to procure slides from outside Nigeria. It also enables trained microscopists to regularly refresh their skills and conduct step-down training for others in order to amplify the malaria diagnostic capacity across the country.
Our team members commemorated World Malaria Day 2022 by contributing to the malaria awareness campaign. See more pictures via the link below: