“Tawaii-Tawaii” is all you hear from every corner of every bedroom, almost in every compound in my small neigbourhood, somewhere in the South-east of the Niger. People are trying to get some sleep after a stressful day, but these tiny insects with wings and suckers won’t let them. The very least they can do is slap themselves “Tawaii” anywhere they feel a slight movement (especially the ears).
Hoping to kill these tormentors popularly known as Mosquitoes /anwunta/ in Igbo. Almost every night, it’s still the same old story. It has happened so often over the years, so much so that it is slowly becoming a very sad-and-sorry part of our sleep-routine. The Mosquito-story is one story I can perfectly relate with, having been an eye/ear witness.
It’s a passionate story where a particular tiny creature torments, and in some cases, kills the big guy. It’s a sad story, and I don’t like sad stories. Most people don’t, either. Hence, I have decided to stick to the original plan and write a thing or two on ending malaria for good.
“End Malaria For Good” is one phrase some Nigerians might even laugh over. A phrase seemingly “too good to be true”. But I believe it’s feasible. All it requires from us is just a little bit of enlightenment, once we’ve let go of ignorance. There are so many things about mosquitoes and malaria that most Nigerians have little or no idea about, yet they show little or no interest about learning ways to deal with the problem. There’s this common belief that “Naija people survive anything”. But why settle for “survive” where you can “thrive”. Why? For us to end malaria for good, we have to let the people know exactly what to do and how to do it.
We know from history how badly malaria has dealt with Africans, especially Nigerians from time immemorial. History gave us a clear briefing on how Nigerian children usually die mysteriously, albeit looking back; we now understand it was malaria doing the dirty job in most of those sad cases.
History also gave us a briefing on how these tiny creatures made the earliest batch of Christian missionaries take to their heels, as they couldn’t stand the slaughter. When they ran back, it seemed at that point as though these tiny creatures were “indisputable”. But thanks to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, thanks to the discovery of Quinine.
The white men came back, and this time they brought the antidote with them, with which the mosquitoes could do little or no harm. The white took these drugs for both attack and defence. As time passed, we started using it as well. Now owing to the fact that science and technology kept advancing, Quinine was substituted with similar malarial drugs with much more efficacy.
Then, these drugs were rare gemstones. Now, they are reasonably affordable (even free in some cases). Thus, just like the story of the Israelites and the snakes, where all who looked up to the bronze snake, lived. In like manner, anybody who takesArtemether-Lumefantrine(or similar malarial drugs) shall live, and not die.
Now, how do we inform the people and end malaria for good? So far, the media has done a great job I must confess, from radio to television to journals. An average Nigerian knows almost anything on malarial drugs to buy, and the dose, even without prescriptions. They have also heard of mosquito nets. But the average Nigerian is more concerned with the cure for malaria than he is, with its prevention. It makes me wonder if “Prevention is still better than cure”.
We would rather buy mosquito-killers than clean our gutters and clear the environment. We would rather use the bush than use the closet. All these and more, are the seemingly-insignificant-but-essentially-crucial things we must do if we must “end malaria for good.
“We tend to neglect these crucial duties, and since everybody is doing it, it almost feels right. What the people need is a serious reorientation, but this time we need to lay emphasis more on the prevention than on the cure. TV operas and radio dramas are few of the best tools to drive the point home. And the reason is simple; people connect with them since it’s something they can easily relate with. If we can have TV programmes that don’t just show drugs, but also show an environment that has become mosquito free because of positive change in lifestyle, hence a resultant positive change in the state of the environment.
Programmes that showcase people clearing up their homes, clearing their gutters, dumping refuse only in the right places, consciously deciding not to litter the streets like everybody else, and generally doing those simple little things that look like they mean nothing, but can make a big difference on the long run. And I’m quite sure that when this good news starts spreading, when the people start getting the point, the positive change becomes automatic; one individual per time, Ending Malaria For Good.
Of course, it’s an obvious fact when I say that no one individual has all the sides to the big picture of “Ending malaria for good”. I hopefully believe I just did my humble part by painting a small portion into this big picture. And believe me when I say I’m elated seeing the big-good-work Miralpharm is doing, getting all these pieces together, different views from different students.
What a beautiful picture it will be when all the pieces are put together. I only hope they keep this fire burning, going beyond making and selling drugs, much more into harnessing ideas and enriching lives in the process. Sooner than later, we hope to sleep safe, without any “Tawaii-Tawaii”, owing to the fact that the tiny creatures have gone missing…So help us God, Amen.
This is the leading article on Ravimal Essay Award in a series focused on raising awareness around ending malaria in Nigeria.
For winning the essay competition on malaria, Victor, a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University was given a N100,000 scholarship and a trip to India by MiralPharm Limited