The good quality malaria medicines campaign has been launched in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital. The campaign is to sensitize the public on the need to check and verify all the codes put in a drug to confirm whether it is genuine or counterfeit.
These codes include the NAFDAC number, manufacturing date, expiry date and scratch pad which is meant to confirm the mobile authenticity of all material drugs.
Launching the programme in Uyo, the head of health provider initiative, of the health communication capacity collaborative HC3, Dr Diwe Ekweremadu made a clarion call for awareness and education on sourcing and application of drugs in the state.
He stressed on the insistence of good quality malaria medicines in the state so as to check the high incidence of death from malaria attacks prevalent in the state.
Dr Ekwerenmadu drew the attention of the media to their role as the watchdog of the society therefore they must be at the forefront of exposing the danger of substandard, spurious, falsified and falsely labeled counterfeit (SSFFC) malaria medicines . He recommended the effective use of editorials, features articles, radio and T.V programs to generate public discourse and awareness on methods to be use as well as the need to isolate good malaria medicines from the fake ones.
The national coordinator of the national malaria elimination programme, Dr Nnena Ezeigwe represented by the deputy director and head advocacy communication and social mobilisation of the national malaria elimination programme Mrs Itohowo Uko submitted that the launching of the campaign for good quality malaria medicines was timely and relevant because of the increase in the death of persons contracting malaria not only in the state but in the whole Niger delta region as a whole.
Mrs Uko further mentioned the adverse effect of malaria parasites in the states of Nigeria as affecting the socio economic growth and development of the society, causes misery and sufferings, leads to loss of jobs and poverty. She therefore wondered what the effect will be if adulterated malaria medicines is added to the already bad situation.
According to her “The presence of counterfeit and substandard malaria medicines in any society is very dangerous because it prolong the duration of the illness, Increase the risk of severe disease with its attended complication and eventual deaths”. She noted.
Mrs Uko also opined that the use of substandard and counterfeit malaria medicines can lead to drug resistant strain of malaria parasites and treatment failure.
She called for a joint effort among various stakeholders in the field to combat the dreaded menace of fake malaria medicines and eradicate them through information and education.
Mrs Uko further recommended stiff sanctions from the relevant government regulatory agencies notably NAFDAC and S.O.N to any culprits caught trading in counterfeit malaria medicines. She praised the goodwill of HC3 , a USAID funded project in Nigeria for supporting this laudable programme which is starting in Akwa Ibom State.
Also speaking on the occasion , Dr Nnamdi Nwaneri of the national malaria elimination programme who represented Dr Godwin Ntadom cautioned against assuming that all fever is cause by malaria. He advised that rather all cases of fever should be subjected to a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) or microscopy and should be done by a competent medical personnel.
Dr Nwaneri cited the danger of not using the RDT as putting pressure eventually on the Artemisin combined- based therapy (ACTS) which is the drug used in the treatment of malaria.
He further listed certain drugs as being banned for the treatment of malaria to include Chloroquine, Halfan, Artesunate e.t.c because they are monotheraphy malaria drugs.
According to Dr Nwaneri “ The public should look for NAFDAC number, manufacturing date, expiry date and scratch pad . They should scratch the pad and text the number to the verification number and wait for the response from the phone. Sooner the reply will come to your phone to confirm the drug then you can either buy or refuse to buy. However if the reply that comes to your phone confirms the drug to be fake, you have a duty to inform NAFDAC for immediate action”.