WMD: Bidding farewell to African mosquitoes

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    The World Mosquito Day is observed worldwide on 20 August annually with the aim of commemorating the British doctor, Sir Ronald Ross of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine who discovered that Anopheles mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of the malaria parasite to the humans.

         This day is also aimed at spreading awareness about increasing a strong sense of urgency of wiping out mosquitoes around the world as they transmit myriads of life-threatening illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

        According to epidemiologists, aedes and haemagogus mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting some lethal diseases called Mosquito-Borne Diseases striking the sub-Saharan Africa that include Zika virus, Mayaro virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, yellow fever, Dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, La Crosse Encephalitis and Malaria, just to name a few. 

     Over the years, huge funds have been spent on the collaborative fight against malaria by African governments and international donors, but unfortunately it remains within the top five leading silent killers in the continent so far. To be frank, those huge funds and collective efforts are yet to produce the desired effect on account of increasing a wide array of mosquito population as a result of an annual incessant flooding, small pool, stagnant water and warm-weather climates.

       Globally, according to the 2020 World Malaria Report, malaria kills approximately one to three million people per year and most of them are under-five children in rural areas of West Africa and nine in 10 death cases of the disease are in Africa. A January 2020 article on the Nigeria-based website NPOReports has also pointed out that malaria kills more children than any other age group. The WHO has also said that more than 800,000 children breathed their last in Africa annually as a result of malaria while virtually a quarter of global malaria deaths are said to have occurred in Nigeria each year.

        According to epidemiologists, Aedes and Haemogogus mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of a lethal quick-killer disease called Yellow Fever virus in tropical areas of West African countries. It is estimated that almost 29,000 to 60,000 people are killed by this deadly disease annually. There have recently been reported cases of yellow fever outbreaks in some parts of Nigeria claiming so many lives. Some state governments look upon it as a strange disease. The cases of the disease outbreak have recently been confirmed in more than ten states and the FCT.

     In November 2020, the WHO expressed its determination to support the NCDC and affected states to control the fatal disease. In October 2020, the FG, with support of the WHO, the CDC and the Vaccine Alliance, resumed a series of mass preventive vaccination campaigns to safeguard more than seven million people in Nigeria against yellow fever virus. Their target is said to be 30 million Nigerians in seven states of the federation.  

      Frankly speaking, sub-Saharan Africa has no reason for not replicating 101 countries of Europe, American continent, South-East Asia, Western Pacific,, Eastern Mediterranean and some countries of Northern Africa that were certified as malaria-free nations by the WHO between 1955 to 2021. The cardinal question here is: Why is sub-Saharan Africa not keeping its mind on outright elimination of malaria?   

      It is not a secret that malaria is not earnestly intended to be eliminated in Africa because there are so many unpatriotic individuals who made it their lucrative business. The pharmaceutical companies that supply antimalarial drugs for African nations are owned by egocentric leaders or powerful individuals who have mercilessly been making huge profits with the sale of the drugs for their governments. This is why they don’t want it to be eliminated.

      In fact, even Cuba, despite being a tiny country, eliminated mosquitoes in 1973. The country invited the entire West Africa to embrace its policies. After the plan suffered a series of setbacks, in 2012, Cuba and the ECOWAS signed an agreement on eradicating mosquitoes’ in three years across the continent by eliminating the mosquitoes’ larvae or spraying biolarvicides. So, what happened to this paramount agreement? 

      Besides, Tuesday, 22 January, 2019, when the ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mr. Jon Tong Choi, paid him a courtesy call in his office in Abuja, Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said that Nigeria will deploy nuclear technology to eradicate malaria in Nigeria in collaboration with North Korea. The technology will sterilize the reproductive ability of anopheles mosquitoes which is the vector carrier of the disease. The nuclear technology is said to be deployed to control the birth of anopheles mosquitoes.  

     Optimistically, prevention is indeed better than cure. So, apart from sharing out mosquito nets and anti-malarial drugs for vulnerable communities in the West African, authorities of the continent will undoubtedly be able to hit a multitude of birds with one stone simultaneously by delving too deeply into efficacious speediest ways and policies for eliminating death-dealing heterogeneous mosquitoes across the continent. This effort will definitely eradicate the entire species of disease-carrying mosquitoes in the continent.

     To sum up, the sub-Saharan African leaders should be reminded that the efficacious fight against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases should not be limited to sinking huge funds into sharing out insecticidal-treated mosquito nets, drugs and vaccinations. Their ultimate solution and focus must be entirely on actualizing that unprecedented effectual agreement made with Cuba in 2012 and North Korea. The authorities of the region should also wake up from their deep slumber, change their attitudes and be empathetic or servant leaders to save incessant loss of million lives of African newborns. 

       Being a newly elected chairman of the ECOWAS, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana should spare no effort to act on that Cuba-ECOWAS agreement on mosquito elimination across sub-Saharan Africa without further ado to bring an end to under-five mortality rate across the region.  

Mustapha Baba Azare,

Alkali Musa Street, Azare, Bauchi state

[email protected]