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PRESS RELEASE ON THE DEATH OF FORMER UNITED NATION SECRETARY-GENERAL AND NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE – KOFI ANNAN

 

The Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations (FAMSA) is profoundly disheartened by the passing of former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mr. Kofi Annan.

Kofi Annan, in full Kofi Atta Annan was born April 8, 1938, in Kumasi, Gold Coast (now Ghana); died August 18, 2018.

He served as the seventh Secretary General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipient of the 2001 Noble Peace Prize. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation as well as chairman of the Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.

Mr. Annan was the first black African to head the United Nations, was deeply respected by all who knew and worked with him. He left an unforgettable legacy through his work at the United Nations.

Of his numerous mind blowing works, it is worth noting that Mr. Kofi Annan worked on ending human rights abuses and also to combat HIV/AIDS virus especially in Africa. He began his new term as the UN secretary general in 1997; the outlook from the AIDS epidemic was bleak. Some 23 million people were living with HIV there were 3.2 million new HIV infections and access to life saving treatment was only available to a privileged few. Under his leadership in 2000, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1308, identifying AIDS as a threat to global security.

Also, in 2000, at a time, when less than one billion dollars was invested in the AIDS response, he called for a war chest of at least 7-10 billion dollars for AIDS tuberculosis and malaria.

As UN secretary general, he spoke glowingly on gender equality including its role in development. According to him, no other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity or reduce infant and maternal mortality as well as improve nutrition including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. These were directed towards the improvement of health in Africa and the world as whole.

A highlight of Annan’s strides in office was his issuance of a five-point Call to Action in April 2001 to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic and his proposal to create a Global AIDS and Health Fund. He and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 2001 “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”. A few of his strides in office include:

• Adoption of the UN’s first-ever counter-terrorism strategy,

• Involvement in the transition to civil rule in Nigeria in 1998,

• Launch of the “Global Impact” initiative in 1999 which has become the world’s largest effort to promote corporate social responsibility,

• Being responsible for certifying Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and in 2006, his efforts contributed to securing a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah.

• Also in 2006, he mediated a settlement of the dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the Bakassi peninsula.

While Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping in 1990, Kofi Annan facilitated the repatriation from Iraq of more than 900 international staff and other non-Iraqi nationals and also served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia and Special Envoy to NATO (1995-1996).

“Mr. Annan devoted his life to making the world a more peaceful place through his compassion and dedication to service. He worked tirelessly to unite us and never stopped fighting for the dignity of every person” (Nikki Haley).

Mr. Kofi Annan will be greatly remembered as a colossus of peace and justice

The Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations join the international community in remembering and acknowledging his remarkable service to the world.

May his soul rest in peace

 

 

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ELIMINATING MALARIA IN NIGERIA BY 2030: A POSSIBILITY OR A MIRAGE?

INTRODUCTION

Malaria is a disease spread by the female Anopheles mosquito and is caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium. The mosquito carries the parasite and is where the parasite starts its life cycle. Once the parasites get into the human body, they travel to the liver where they mature. After several days, the mature parasites enter the blood stream and begin to infect the red blood cells. Within 48-72 hours, the parasites inside the red blood cell multiply causing the infected cells to burst open usually resulting in development of symptoms like chills, headache, vomiting, fever and so on. Malaria is not a communicable disease but can be spread without a mosquito example, through blood transfusions. The subspecies of Plasmodium include Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium knowlesi.

Malaria remains the most important public health parasitic disease and a major global health problem with the greatest burden in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria accounts for 25% of the world’s malaria burden. Apart from the health burden, the socio economic consequences are enormous such that it was part of the Millennium Development Goals and Goal 6C was to halt and reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015. Following the end of the Millennium Development Goals, the WHO member states, Nigeria inclusive, on 20th May, 2015 agreed to a new global malaria strategy for 2016-2030. The strategy aims to reduce the global disease burden by 40% by 2020 and by at least 90% by 2030.

 

 

STATISTICS

Nigeria is reported to have the enviable record of contributing about 25% of the world’s malaria burden, with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths reported annually while 97% of the total population is at risk of infection. In Nigeria, the disease is responsible for 60% of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30% of childhood deaths and 11% of maternal death. The financial loss due to Malaria annually is estimated to be 132 billion Naira in form of treatment costs, prevention and loss of man hours among other expenses, however it is a treatable and completely evitable disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

In 2000, Nigeria joined other African nations, to initiate a more focused and calculated effort to reduce the burden of malaria. They agreed to set aside the 25th of April of every year to draw attention to the menace of Malaria and to drum up support for its elimination.

Consequently, the day was tagged “World Malaria Day”. The National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) has implemented about three strategic plans. The first plan covered the period 2001-2005 and was developed after the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria to build partnership and garner political will. The second plan covered 2006-2010 and focused on vulnerable populations as the primary target groups for intervention that is, pregnant women, children less than five years and people living with HIV/AIDS. The third plan provided a road map for Malaria control in Nigeria. The current plan covers 2014-2020 and it aims to achieve pre-elimination and reduce Malaria related deaths to zero by 2020.

 

 

CHALLENGES

 

DRUG RESISTANCE AND TREATMENT FAILURE

Malaria drugs are meant to clear malaria parasites from the blood of an infected person and in the process diminish sources of infection in the community. Drug resistance, the ability of a parasite strain to survive and/or multiply despite the administration and absorption of drug given in doses equal to or higher than those usually recommended but within the tolerance of the subject, is a major challenge in the fight against malaria. Chloroquine used to be the drug of choice against malaria but chloroquine resistance which swept across endemic countries in the 1980s was the reason for treatment policy change that gave rise to the use of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) as the current drug of choice. ACT has played a major part in reducing the number of deaths due to Malaria over the past decade. However, Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum has recently spread across large parts of Southeast Asia, and now threatens to destabilise Malaria control worldwide. Related to drug resistance is treatment failure. A failure to clear Malaria parasites or resolve clinical disease following drug treatment could be a function of non-patency and not necessarily drug resistance as not all cases of treatment failure is a function of drug resistance. Many factors can contribute to malaria treatment failure including incorrect dosing, non-compliance with the duration of dosing regimen, poor drug quality, drug interaction or misdiagnosis. The role of each of these in malaria treatment failures in Nigeria is not known and there is a need for a study in the effort to eliminate the disease.

 

 

 INSECTICIDE RESISTANCE

Anopheles mosquitoes are vectors of malaria parasites.Control of Anopheles mosquitoes relies on the use of Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS). This method has been implemented successfully in many countries. However, success is being impeded by the development and spread of insecticide resistant malaria vectors in Africa, which may compromise the use of these vector control strategies. Only 4 classes of insecticide (carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines and pyrethroids) are available for IRS, whereas the use of LLINs depends exclusively on pyrethroids. In Nigeria, Anopheline vector resistance to DDT andpyrethroids have been reported. The emergence of pyrethroid and DDT resistance in the major Afro-tropical malaria vectors would haveconsiderable implications for the success of vector intervention and the monitoring of ongoing control programmes. Hence, there is a strong need for the development of appropriate tools to monitor resistance in field populations of Anopheline mosquitoes in order to benefit from the contributions of the appropriate use ofchemical insecticides in Malaria elimination in Nigeria.

 

 

GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Available data suggest that the temperature of the world is increasing, with the last decade recorded as having the highest temperature. This increase in global temperature mainly as a result of human activity, is known as global warming. Global warming changes the climate, and climatic factors play important roles in the spatial and temporal distribution of malaria. The relationship between climatic variables and malaria transmission has been reported in many countries. Malaria has been identified as one of the most climate sensitive diseases,with studies suggesting significant associations between temperature and malaria incidence. Relative humidity and rainfall have also been associated with malaria transmission. Climate change expressed through changes in temperature and precipitation influences habitat suitability and can potentially shift the geographical range of Malaria. Warmer temperatures accelerate physiological processes of the mosquito vector, leading to increased activity such as biting rate, growth, development and reproduction. Extreme temperatures may also decrease survivorship of vectors, leading to a convex relationship between temperature and mosquito performance. In particular, temperature plays a key limiting role on malaria at the edge of the altitudinal distribution of the disease in highland regions, where the parasite is not likely to complete development during the lifetime of its vector. Drivers of malaria control and elimination need information to guide vector control challenges in an era of climate changes. Therefore, there is work to be done in this regard.

 

 

 CONFLICTS, TERRORISM, INSURGENCY, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AND MIGRATION.

Nigeria today is plagued by conflicts, terrorism, insurgency, migration and internally displaced persons. Virtually all regions ofthe country are affected with the northeast bearing the highest burden. The massive movement of non-immune people across areas infested with the malaria vector is one of the consequences of civil unrest. The malaria control situation is threatened by the impact of refugees, returnees, internally displaced populations, and natural disasters, i.e. flooding, that put added strain on an already weakened system from years of conflict and that may destabilize whatever gains that have been made. The situation is aggravated by an increase in population due to refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons. Accordingly, the country experiences exceedingly high malaria transmission intensities with inherent high morbidity and mortality rates. Every effort is needed to understand the dynamics of this issue in the effort to control and eliminate malaria.

 

 

POLITICAL WILL, LEADERSHIP AND FUNDING

An important action for mobilizing and encouraging governments to continue to support malaria programmes is to generate political will. Since 2000, there has been an increasing political drive to eliminate malaria. The transition from sustained control, once achieved, to elimination demands a shift in focus. It requires significant national commitment, and sustained investment and financial support. To maintain a malaria-free status, a country must show that it has the necessary political will and vision, has created the required legislative and regulatory framework and has adequate financial and administrative resources, personnel and technological capacity.Effective and sustained control is an important prerequisite for elimination. The most important challenge in battle against malaria in Nigeria is the lack of political will. Until this is overcome, achieving elimination may be a mirage. When there is the desired political will, effective leadership will emerge to coordinate elimination efforts. Political leaders should muster the political will to create an enabling environment within which strategies to support elimination would operate: appropriate research, a well-functioning health system, community participation, sustainable financing, a national and regional legal framework, and political stability are all crucial.A certain level of financial support is also required to achieve elimination, prevent resurgence and support larger goals of regional elimination and global eradication.

 

 

SUCCESSES

Nigeria has recorded a 35% decline in malaria cases in five years with only 25% of children under the age of 5 testing positive for the disease in 2015 compared to 40% in 2010. The result of the 2015 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS) released by the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), National Populations Commission and National Bureau of statistics show a marked decrease in prevalence of the disease among children under five, and major improvements in prevention and treatment. The decrease corresponds with expanded malaria prevention interventions. There has been considerable progress in the control of malaria over the years. A 61% increase in the ownership of insecticide treated nets among households was observed from 2008-2015. The percentage of children who slept under a mosquito net increased from 2008-2015by 38%

In 2010, only 12% of children took ACT. However, over five years, this percentage increased to 38%.

There has also been reasonable progress in the percentage of pregnant women who sleep under an insecticide treated net, with a 44% increase in percentage from 2008-2015. Furthermore, there was a 32% increase in the percentage of pregnant women who took anti-malarial medication during their first pregnancy from 2008-2015.

 

 

THE WAY FORWARD

 

The past decade has seen considerable progress in reducing preventable mortality in low- and

Middle-income countries (LMICs), as evidenced by the 50% reduction in childhood deaths,

25% reduction in malaria cases, and the World Health Organization (WHO) certification of

four countries as malaria-free. Nigeria can be one of the malaria free countries as well.The Lancet Commission on Investing for Health determined that if the right investments are made in scaling up existing health interventions and in developing new prevention, treatment, and surveillance tools, the world could achieve a “grand convergence” by 2035, with preventable deaths reaching universally low levels and economic benefits exceeding cost by a factor of 9–20. Historically, LMICs that have aggressively adopted new tools have seen an additional 2%-per-year decline in child mortality rates compared with non-adopters. However, adoption alone of new and existing tools with poor implementation will have little impact on disease transmission in the long term. Malaria control and elimination demand new tools and technologies as well as better mechanisms for maintaining detailed surveillance and spatial decision support systems (SDSS) that improve reporting and timeliness of activities. The majority of new products currently under development are in partnership with Product Development Partnerships (PDPs) such as the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH); Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC), the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD), Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiatives (DNDi), and the European Vaccines Initiative (EVI). There are over 100 products in the research and development pipeline that will benefit regional elimination and global eradication goals. These range from innovative diagnostics, medicines, vaccines, and vector control products to improved mechanisms for surveillance and targeted responses.

 

Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC)

SMC involves administration of treatment on a monthly basis to coincide with the annual peak in malaria transmission. This intervention is highly effective in reducing the incidence of clinical malaria and anemia in young children, and, in 2012, WHO recommended implementation of SMC for children under the age of five in areas of the Sahel sub region of Africa with highly seasonal transmission. This recommendation is now being implemented increasingly in countries of the Sahel. Although less extensively researched, and not yet recommended by WHO, evidence suggests that SMC is as effective in older children.

 

Vaccines

Vaccines are generally classified into three approaches: Pre-erythrocytic vaccines aim to prevent blood-stage infection; blood-stage vaccines aim to clear parasitaemia and prevent clinical disease; and transmission-blocking vaccines aim to prevent infection of mosquitoes and interrupt malaria transmission in populations. There is a growing appreciation that vaccines combining multiple targets and stages will be required for achieving and sustaining elimination.

The development of effective malaria vaccines has been a major goal of the malaria research community for many decades. In 2006, the global Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap established the goal of developing an 80%-effective vaccine against P. falciparum malaria by 2025 that would provide protection for longer than four years, with an interim landmark of a 50%-effective vaccine of one-year duration by 2015. The new Technology Roadmap updated in 2012 outlines that by 2030, vaccines should be developed that provide at least 75% protective efficacy against clinical malaria, reduce transmission of the parasite, and can be deployed in mass campaigns. Because of the complex life cycle of the Plasmodium parasite, host immune response efforts have been focused most recently on the pre-erythrocytic stage of infection to protect against the early stage of malaria infection and thereby block disease progression to red blood cells and clinical malaria. RTS,S, a pre-erythrocytic vaccine for the prevention of clinical P. falciparum malaria in children, is the first vaccine to successfully complete a Phase III clinical trial. The vaccine has recently been approved by the European Medicines Agency, and WHO was imminently expected to make the first malaria vaccine policy recommendations. The trials, conducted in African children, demonstrated a vaccine efficacy for clinical malaria of 50% in children aged 5–17 months old but only 30% in infants, the target population. While RTS,S demonstrates that a malaria vaccine is possible, an ideal candidate to support global eradication efforts would need to have a higher efficacy .

Paraguay was recently declared malaria free by WHO. From 1950 to 2011, Paraguay systematically developed policies to control and eliminate malaria. A five year plan to consolidate the gains, prevent re-establishment of transmission and prepare for elimination certification was launched in 2011. Activities focused on robust case management, engagement with communities, and education to make people aware of ways to prevent malaria transmission. Dr Risintha Premaratne of Sri Lanka also said “Sri Lanka became a malaria free country by eliminating the Parasite and not the vector” He also said the principle strategy used as keys to Sri Lanka’s success are vector control, access, surveillance and treatment.

 

 

CONCLUSION

Like every other issue plaguing Nigeria, it is not impossible to completely eliminate Malaria by 2030. However, lack of political will, poor leadership, corruption, poor sanitation practices in Nigeria using Irefin as a case study and many other challenges to malaria elimination, it is safe to say that except drastic measures are put in place to tackle these challenges, malaria elimination by 2030 remains a mirage.

 

REFERENCES

 

  1. Aribodor D. N., Ugwuanyi I. K., and Aribodor O. B., “Challenges to Achieving Malaria Elimination in Nigeria.” American Journal of Public Health Research, vol. 4, no. 1 (2016): 38-41. doi
  2. Chukwuocha UM (2012) Malaria control in Nigeria. Primary Health Care2:118.doi: 10.4172/2167-1079.1000118
  3. Dawaki, S, Al-mekhalfi Ibrahim, Atroosh, Abdulsalam (2016) Is Nigeria winning the battle against malaria?. Prevalence, riskfactors and KAP assessment among hausa communities in Kano state. Malaria journal, 15,351
  4. Health think team, malaria status in Nigeria. Available at https://Healththink.org/malaria-in-nigeria-where are we now/ Accessed 14th July 2018
  5. Hemingway J, Shretta R, Wells TNC, Bell D, Djimdé AA, Achee N, et al. (2016) Tools and Strategies for Malaria Control and Elimination: What Do We Need to Achieve a Grand Convergence in Malaria? PLoSBiol 14(3): e1002380. doi:10.1371/ journal.pbio.1002380s
  6. The Guardian News – Nigeria records 35% decline in malaria cases. Available at https://guardian.ng/news/nigeria-records-35-per-cent-decline-in-malaria-cases/ Accessed 14th July 2018

 

 

FRANCES CHUKWU

4th year medical student,
University of Ibadan,
Nigeria.

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32nd FAMSA General Assembly and Scientific Conference

FAMSA GA is the annual general assembly of member medical student associations of FAMSA from all around Africa. This year’s edition is the 32nd of its kind and will mark the 50th anniversary of the association. To celebrate FAMSA’s historic anniversary, University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association (UIMSA) http://uimsa.org.ng will be hosting other medical students from all over Africa and the world as this edition will also feature a scientific conference themed “Repositioning healthcare in Africa for Sustainable Development”.

The 32nd FAMSA General Assembly and Scientific Conference will bring together young vibrant minds as well as professionals and relevant stakeholders in both the public and private sectors from across Africa and beyond to discuss ideas and initiate steps to position Africa on the path to sustainable development in health and by extension in every other sphere of human development. The conference will feature keynote addresses, plenary sessions, workshops, trainings, hackathon sessions, and scientific presentations on carefully selected subthemes all related and contributory to our goal of repositioning healthcare in Africa for Sustainable Development.

For more information about the general assembly, kindly visit http://famsaga2018.com

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A BRIEF INTROSPECTION INTO THE RELEVANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH IN TOTAL HEALTH

The mind is the embodiment of mental health. It houses, controls and refines the faculties of thoughts and memories in a finite balance so that to the outside world, everything would put on a normal, conforming and orderly outlook. More so, the mind’s conduct is the weighing scale for gauging the extremes and normality of mental health which is part and parcel of total health as rightly exemplified and postulated by the World Health Organization (W.H.O) in 1948.

However, it is worth remembering that right from the time of wearing figs and hides to the inception of concrete scientific philosophies, art, industry and innovation; the perception of mental health has been muddled up in myths and obscurity.

Why? We simply have discredited the sovereignty of the mind over the body; that there is an insoluble alignment between the physical body and the mind. A healthy mind represents a healthy body and vice versa. The realms are inseparably interwoven. It’s the subliminal reason behind why some corporeal disease elicit co-morbid mental illnesses too e.g. HIV and Dementia.

Thus, we cannot sit back to keep reciting endless details and facts. The way forward is to know, examine and accept that Health in its entirety is incomplete, bland and vulnerable to implications without a sound and bright mental stand.

This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Pat Ashinze.
College of Health Sciences,
University of Ilorin, Nigeria

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NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH

‘Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of but stigma and bias shame us all’- Bill Clinton

Individuals with good mental health are described as being in a state of well- being. Positive mental health includes emotion, cognition, and social functioning and coherence. (WHO: 2009). Mental illnesses present themselves in varies forms from anxiety to suicidal thought, affecting other aspects of life such as health, social life and work.

A psychiatrist is a doctor, as much as an endocrinologist is and their services are as accessible too. However, for a diabetic patient, it’s much easier to seek help compared to a mental illness patient. When we think about health we tend to separate mental and physical health, forgetting that mental health controls our physical health and vice versa. Anxiety is one well known mental illness. Innumerable people have been anxious for a few seconds at least once in their lives. It is associated with, increased heart rate, chest pain and restlessness. A continuous state of anxiety can lead to increased chances of acquiring various chronic physical illnesses such as heart attacks, diabetes and a weakened immune system; illnesses that can be prevented if the core, the mental illness is treated. Furthermore, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Not only does a mental illness affect body but also affects various aspects of life such as the quality of work leading to economic losses.

For many years, people focused on genetics and neurotransmitters as being the major cause of mental illnesses, where this is true, recent studies have identified that the environment has a great impact on mental health. The general breakdown of causes of mental disorders is;

  • Biological; genetically inherited, brain defects or infection by certain bacteria or viruses
  • Psychological; emotional/ physical/ sexual abuse, trauma, family violence
  • Environmental; death of a loved one, substance abuse, romantic failures

Everyone experiences days where they are low or upset but a few surpass the fine line and develop a more serious mental illness. The normalization of some mental health disorders has desensitized us from it severity. ’I feel depressed’, ‘I just want to kill myself’- these are phrases we say or hear often when people are low or stressed. It has become so common that we can’t identify when people are actually suffering from the condition. Depression isn’t merely a feeling; it is a struggle. A fight every day to try and find reason for existence.

For several years there has been a negative attitude towards mental illnesses in some cultures and societies encouraging stigma towards those who are courageous enough to admit they have a mental illness. Despite one out of four people suffering from a mental illness, many remain undiagnosed due to the fear of discrimination and are unable to seek assistance despite there being many several professionals present. Sadly, it is still associated mental illness with curses, evil spirits and witchcraft in some societies. The ‘taboo’ is more prominent in African cultures. For so long mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression have been considered ‘white man’ diseases.

Patients who resist seeking attention from professionals tend to ‘self-medicate’ using other methods such as substance abuse and self-mutualisation. These mechanisms provide temporary relief from the uncomfortable symptoms but eventually place the user at risk of mental health illness. An area of the brain known as the hippocampus that is associated with emotion, stress control and long term memory gets impaired, making it that much harder for a patient to recover during treatment. On one hand people take drugs to escape depression, anxiety while on the other hand there are those taking drugs just for recreational purposes, therein resulting in self-inflicted mental health conditions. Patients with both a substance abuse problem and mental illness are said to have a co-occurring disorder.

In some cases, patients from low-middle income countries and regions, willing to seek assistance are unable to do so due to the lack of resources such as mental health services and human resources (psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, etc.). 800,000! That is the estimated number of people that commit suicide annually between the ages of 15-29 globally according to the WHO, rate being higher in men more than women. This is because women are more open to seeking help or discussing their issues with others compared to the men. Furthermore, having a combination of mental illnesses increases the likelihood of suicide attempts.

Mental health is the fundamental basis of a good healthy community and therefore deserves a significant amount of attention rather than prejudice. Everyone has a part to play in the mental health of family members, friends and communities health by being more mindful and attentive to them. As a society we should create an environment where an individual is comfortable enough to express their feelings preventing progression of their condition.

‘We need to be allowed to fall apart’ – Selena Gomez

Wanjiru Ndumu
Sunaina Bains

 

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AN AFRICAN CHILD’S VIEW OF MALARIA

The average African child has heard of malaria countless times. It probably comes to mind when a friend in school runs a temperature,  a sibling vomits or when a relative complains of stomach pain.

For *Fred, he did not consider malaria as a life threatening disease. It is only when his primary six teacher told him that their relative died of malaria that he saw the gravity of the disease.

He didn’t understand why someone would die of malaria because back at home, mum had a drawer full of drugs that was given to everyone every year’s quarter as treatment for malaria. At the time, Malaria never meant anything more than vomiting and fever.

Years ago, grandma had warned him to stop taking oil, papaya, orange, tomatoes and basically every other fruit that even had a splash of orange, yellow or red colors as they caused Malaria. At home, he would have sleepless nights due to the buzzing of mosquitoes and the painful stings they’d give.

When He got into Secondary school, the Nigerian Government gave out mosquito nets to all students in Federal Unity Colleges as part of their programs to free the country from the bondage of Malaria. After using the net, he noticed that he could sleep peacefully most nights without the buzzing or biting of the mosquitoes. His friend would cover himself with his mosquito net like a blanket. He got a high fever a few days later and was diagnosed with Malaria.

Later on, they had a class on Malaria. They learnt that its method of transmission is through a mosquito called the female Anopheles mosquito. They were also taught that mosquitoes have various species such as Anopheles, Aedes and Culex. Their teacher added that the causative agent, the plasmodium, has different species too; falciparum, vivax, malariae and knowlesi. The teacher had also mentioned passively that the name Malaria was adopted from Latin, meaning ‘bad air’.

On his return home for the Christmas holidays, he couldn’t help but notice that all the windows and doors in the house had mesh on them. In the house, all beds had nets dangling from the ceiling and were all well tucked in. The next morning, he noticed that the compound looked different and that the place where the weeds had grown wild looked almost as flat as the grass he played on in school.

Even the little body of water that was usually left stagnant days after heavy rains was nowhere in sight. Mum said that she had made dad do the clearing after they had been given a talk in church on Malaria prevention. They had been taught that stagnant water and long grass are breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.

That evening as he went to buy groundnuts for his mum, he noticed that some women had used the mosquito net as fences for their farms. When he asked his mum about this. She told him that the nets were being used improperly. She then said that Malaria could be defeated by using the mosquito nets in houses and not in farms and carefully discarding empty containers. She also insisted on the importance of the community adhering to the Saturday morning cleanup of bushes and surroundings.

Fred understood Malaria and worked to have his community educated on how Malaria is transmitted and how it can be treated. He now wishes for a world free of Malaria and always sleeps under his mosquito net.

(*: not the real name).

By Archibong, Abasi-Ifreke Aniefiok (400 level)
University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo.
Nigeria.

 

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STOP THE COUGH

CALL FOR BLOG ARTICLES

 

Theme: Stop the cough: From the base to the ivory towers

 

In commemoration of the International Tuberculosis Day, March 24, 2018, FAMSA welcomes articles of medical students in member associations .

Can you suggest ways in which everyone can be involved in the pursuit of a world without TB? Families that are the units of each society to social, cultural, religious and political leaders as well as employers of labor; Is there a role for everyone to play so that we can effectively end tuberculosis?

 

We can not wait to hear from you! Please send your articles as .doc or docx files to scopubfamsa@gmail.com by March 20, 2018.

 

 

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ARRÊTEZ LA TOUX

FEDERATION OF….

FÉDÉRATION DES ASSOCIATIONS AFRICAINES D’ETUDIANTS EN MÉDECINE.

 

Call for blog articles.

Appel pour articles de blog.

 

Thème:Arrêter la toux

 

From the…

De la base aux tours d’ivoire

 

In commemoration…

En commémoration de La Journée Internationale de Tuberculose,le 24 Mars 2018, FAMSA accueille des articles d’étudiants en médecine dans les associations membre. Peux tu proposer des moyens dont tout le monde peut être impliqué dans la poursuite d’un monde sans la tuberculose?Des familles qui sont les unités des chaque sociéte aux leaders sociaux, culturels,religieux et politiques ainsi que les employeurs du travail; y at-il un rôle pour tout le monde à jouer pour que nous puissions effectivement mettre fin à tuberculose?

 

Nous avons hâte d’avoir tes nouvelles! Veillez envoyer vos articles sous forme de fichiers .doc ou docx à scopubfamsa@gmail.com avant le 20 Mars 2018.

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