A pest control specialist and malaria advocate, Mr Francis Nwapa has called on government at all levels to reconstruct the drainages with appropriate sewer systems in place to combat the malaria scourge and save more lives in the country.
Other recommendations include proper water management, shunning open dumping, adequate funding of the health sector to ensure that the remotest part of this country has a qualitative medical facility that rural dwellers can seamlessly access, and building laboratories in schools among others to accelerate research.
Nwapa listed these lasting solutions on his 40th birthday which was held at the Ikotun Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in the Alimosho area of Lagos State.
His words: “If the government must begin to position Nigeria in eradicating malaria, then they must ensure our drainages are reconstructed in such a way that water flows directly from our homes to a central collection point, and ensure that our gutters are not open.”
To drive home his point, the specialist highlighted how advanced countries build their drainages. “You don’t see drainages open; everywhere is clean. To date in Nigeria, we practise open dumping.
“We are supposed to have a seawater system, where the sewer system moves from homes to a collection point. That can even help Nigeria to generate electricity. We don’t even have to import fertiliser. We can convert that to manure to help our plants and the agriculture sector.”
While medical experts in Nigeria have frowned at the meagre 4.2 per cent (N724 billion) of the 2022 health budget allocation for the 36 states and FCT, a far cry from the Abuja Declaration commitment of 15 per cent, Nwapa believes that if judiciously managed the budget could go a long way.
Citing the World Health Organisation’s estimate that Nigeria ranks among the highest mortality rate when it comes to malaria, Nwapa decried that 300,000 children die of malaria annually while seven out of 10 pregnant women suffer from malaria.
“And 11 per cent of childhood deaths are caused by malaria. And pregnant women are the highest hit,” adding that “That is why I decided to centre this birthday around sharing insecticides to pregnant women and nursing mothers to see how we can ameliorate the mosquito vector in our homes.”
Meanwhile, he questioned how Lagos State has 26 registered general hospitals but only one exists in the whole of Alimosho, an undeniably densely populated local government area.
This was part of the reason he launch his advocacy movement this January. “We have had over eight programmes in Lagos, all funded by me. We are not asking for more. We are advocating for the government to do better against malaria.”
The pest control specialist also acknowledged that Nigerians have a role to play even though the government is “99 per cent responsible”. According to Nwapa, ” Citizens should ensure their environment is kept clean at all times.”
Nwapa, who is also the Convener of Hatch Pest Control and Environmental Service Ltd, further cautioned against citrus plants like sweet oranges and their likes and bananas in the environment, emphasising that they encourage and attract mosquitoes.
“Let’s ensure we don’t have water logged in our environment. Ensure you contact a professional pest controller if you can afford it, to carry out pest control in your environment and larvicide your drainages,” he suggested.
Although for many years Nigerians have believed that the use of a mosquito-treated net could keep the mosquitoes at bay, Nwapa has out rightly argued that it is not the solution.
He highlighted: “We don’t campaign about using the mosquito-treated net. Our rooms are hot. There is a poor power supply. Imagine you live in a one-room apartment that isn’t even ventilated. Using a mosquito-treated net is not the solution. Our environment needs to be clean.”