Jos, Nov. 22, 2023 (NAN) Chike Ogbonna, a Professor of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, from the University of Jos, says for each cycle of malaria treatment, the government spends N75.5 billion.
Ogbonna disclosed this in an interview with the the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Wednesday in Jos.
The don was speaking against the backdrop of the need to promote local production of Artemisia Annua, a plant rich in artemisinin; the major component in the treatment of malaria, which can be grown and produced locally for medicinal and other uses in Nigeria.
He observed that with commitment from both government and relevant stakeholders, unity of purpose, empathy towards the populace and selflessness, malaria would cease to be a major health threat in Nigeria.
“Nigeria bears the most burden of malaria, in fact, the highest burden of malaria in the world, about 40 per cent of it.
“The amount of money Nigeria spends on the treatment of one regimen, one cycle of malaria attack in this country, has been conservatively put at N75.5 billion; this figure is staggering.
“Malaria is a number one killer disease, every 30 seconds a child or a pregnant woman drops dead due to complications from malaria, and the rest of the world is not concerned because it is majorly the problem of the black man.
“Other countries have eradicated malaria, but another major problem we are faced with is that most of the pharmaceutical companies are making a lot of money from malaria drugs and so are frustrating efforts to eradicate it.
“They would prefer to have malaria continue so that they can smile to their banks with huge amounts of money, they are not interested in the eradication of malaria,” he said.
The Don, who called on government and other relevant stakeholders to join hands in the fight against the scourge of malaria in Nigeria, observed that all diseases could be cured if concerned parties were united in the fight against such ailments.
“My first call to the government is to make malaria drugs easily affordable to all Nigerians, secondly there is no disease in the world that cannot be eradicated, if you join hands together, you will solve any problem.
“Malaria is a disease of the black man, the white man is not interested in solving malaria, it is now up to us, our salvation depends on us, it is a survival of the fittest.
“As we speak, there is no single drug that is being produced in Nigeria, every drug you see with a Nigerian label was just packaged here, this is sad and should not be so.
“Like I told you, in one single round of treatment, Nigeria loses over N75 billion, now this money that is thrown to the malaria parasite can be used for other developmental purposes, they can put that in education, industry or other economic aspects to boost the economy of this nation,” Ogbonna said.
NAN reports that Artemisia Annua, is a plant known to be potent in malaria treatment, it is said to have been used to produce Madagascar’s COVID-19 herb.
In 2020, the Federal Government announced that the cultivation of the plant would commence, and trial cultivations were conducted in some states and were successful, but the overall objective is yet to be achieved.
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