Mr Oderinde was already used to city life; sleeping under insecticide treated mosquito nets and waking up to inhaling mosquito-free fresh air, no worries on how many sites he had been bitten by some ugly looking mosquitoes over the night, no worries on spending a huge fraction of his finances on antimalarial drugs. His environment was well irrigated, devoid of stagnant waters. In fact, getting rid of his surrounding bushes was a routine he knew too well, and when he was bereft of time for clearing bushes, he had afforded a token for a herbicide treatment. He couldn’t remember the last time he was sick from a mosquito bites!
City life had made him forget malaria still existed until he was posted to Eket Local government in Akwa Ibom state for his youth service program. On meeting the swampy and unkempt nature of his primary place of assignment (PPA) and those of his fellow corps members, he decided to ring a wake up call…
Gbenga discovered that, in reality, malaria is killing our children and pregnant women in rural environments more than any other diseases and more than we knew, and even more than we had heard on media. Finding out that there is still more to be done in educating people in remote areas on ways to prevent mosquito bites and stop spread of malaria, he decided to take the first phase of his wakeup call to his fellow corps members living in the swampy and bushy communities by organising a program at Eket LGA secretariat on the 28th of July, 2016. At the event, he reminded his fellow corps members and other members of the local government area that malaria kills faster than any other diseases that we are familiar with. He emphasised preventive measures as the best method of treatment of malaria.
“Mosquitoes, which spread malaria, depend on blood to survive and reproduce. So if we can stop them from getting our blood, we would succeed in putting an end to their existence thereby ending the spread of malaria.” Mr Gbenga Oderinde, a member of the National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) serving in Eket Local Government in Akwa Ibom state.
He also enjoined his fellow corps members to join in the fight against malaria by sensitizing the people in their various host communities on the need to sleep under Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets, LLIN and live a healthy life by keeping a clean and serene environment as mosquitoes are less likely to duel in a clean environment.
As a philanthropist and an advocate of healthy living, Gbenga didn’t just stop at educating his fellow corps members, he made available free malarial test for all and distributed over 100 LLINs for those present at his program. What a stride! This young man’s effort would go a long way in reducing malaria morbidity and the cost of managing the disease.
Malaria is the world’s deadliest killer disease resulting in over 2million deaths annually worldwide.
Over 3billion people which is almost half the world’s population at risk of malaria.
In Nigeria, malaria is said to be responsible for 60% outpatient visits to health facilities, 30% childhood death, 25% of death in children under one year and 11% maternal death.
World Life Expectancy statistics on malaria death rate, put Nigeria at 60.46% per 100,000. Government’s around the world, World Health Organization(WHO) and several Non Government Organizations(NGOs), continue to spend huge amounts of their yearly budget in fighting malaria.
In Nigeria, the financial loss due to malaria annually is estimated to be about by 132 billion Naira in form of treatment costs, prevention, loss of man-hours etc.
These malaria epidemic statistics all point to the reality that governments, WHO and NGOs can not fight malaria alone but rather the immense contribution of every individual is sacrosanct to the eradication of this deadly scourge that threatens human existence.
Gbenga Oderinde is a graduate of department of Human Anatomy, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.