Isaac Adewole, the minister of health, on Tuesday, announced the ban on chloroquine and artemisinin monotherapy for the treatment of malaria.
Speaking during the commemoration of World Malaria Day, the minister said doctors and nurses have been informed that chloroquine is “no longer useful” and that the prescription of artemisinin monotherapy was wrong.
“With a new emphasis on citizen accountability and rights I want you as a Nigerian citizen to challenge your health care provider and ask questions. When you have malaria and somebody wants to prescribe drugs for you, ask the health care provider: ‘Have you confirmed this is malaria?’ It is your right,” he said.
“As a citizen when your healthcare provider prescribes chloroquine or artemisinin monotherapy, say no. Doctors and nurses have been told that chloroquine is no longer useful and that it is wrong to prescribe artemisin monotherapy. For the healthcare provider, do not treat malaria without diagnosis. Tell yourself, ‘I must not prescribe chloroquine. I must not prescribe monotherapy for artemisinin when what we should prescribe is a combination therapy.”
While noting that malaria is still a major source of ill-health in Nigeria, he said an estimated N300bn is lost annually to the treatment and prevention of the disease.
“In Nigeria, malaria is responsible for around 60 per cent of out-patient visits, 30 per cent of childhood deaths, 25 per cent of death of children under one year and 11 per cent of maternal deaths. Similarly, about 70 per cent of pregnant women suffer from malaria, which contributes to maternal anemia, low birth rates, still births, abortions and other pregnancy-related complications,” he said.
“Financial loss to malaria is estimated to be about N300 billion annually in form of treatment cost, prevention cost and loss of man hours. Malaria is one of the principal reasons for the poor school attendance in many settings because it counts for 13 to 15 per cent of medical reasons for absenteeism from school.”