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Malaria may cause mental disorders

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By Abraham Adekunle

A medical expert has said that untreated malaria may lead to mental disorder.

A medical expert, Mr. Tobias John had warned on Friday, July 1, 2022 that Malaria might lead to Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) if it is left untreated. Mr. John is the Northeast Zonal Coordinator of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA). He gave this warning in an interview with newsagents in Gombe. He revealed that it was imperative that he gave the warning because of the dearth of proper awareness and information about the different health complications that malaria could lead to.

He said that malaria is sensitive to human health, given the series of health complications that are related to the disease and its tendency to weaken the immune system within a short period. The immune system is a large network of organs, white blood cells, proteins (antibodies), and chemicals. They all work together to protect the body from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that cause infection, illness and disease. Malaria is a parasite which weakens this system and causes other diseases, such as the CMDs, which the body would otherwise be immune to.

Malaria kills more than half a million people yearly, 90% in Africa.

According to the 2021 World Malaria Report given by the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 87 countries and territories. In 2020, malaria caused 241 million cases and 627,000 deaths. It was estimated that 90 per cent of the deaths in 2020 were in the ( World Health Organization (WHO) African Region. Also, the majority of these deaths are children. Malaria kills about half a million children every year.

This makes the disease deadlier in children than in adults because children do not have an immune system as strong as that of an adult. Malaria is a disease caused by a plasmodium parasite which is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Its severity is based on the species of plasmodium. Malaria can also be caused by blood products such as unclean needles or unscreened blood. Malaria requires a medical diagnosis by a qualified doctor, but its symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, etc.

Malaria can lead to brain damage and seizure.

Mr. John said that if those suffering from malaria knew the implication of malaria on human health, they will not hesitate to treat the disease. “Malaria is a life-threatening disease,” he said. “It can lead to brain damage and seizure when it results to anemia or blood shortage which affects the functionality of the brain. Malaria can cause common mental disorders which are associated with improper flow of blood into the brain, and when your blood level is low, it cannot move the quantum that is required to the brain for normal functionality.

He added, “Then, you will know that definitely if your co-ordination will be affected and the brain can begin to react in the opposite direction or in diverse means. Once you get to that level, be rest assured that it has become complicated and such a person may begin to speak out of point or lose coordination, which can result to common mental disorders.” The NACA Coordinator said that malaria is an entry ailment to many other ailments, especially those associated with HIV, Tuberculosis and even COVID-19. An entry ailment, according to Mr. John, is one that causes another to happen. In this case, malaria can be an entry illness that will cause another one, such as HIV.

John appeals that malaria be treated properly and that awareness be raised.

For the aforementioned reasons, Mr. John said that there is need to ensure proper prevention and treatment measures. While advocating for a quick-response approach through proper testing, medical diagnosis, and drug prescriptions. Though he cautions people against self-medication. He said that the approach people take to treat malaria is not ideal. There are five parasite species that cause malaria in humans. Until it is diagnosed, you may not be able to know which parasite is responsible and the specific malaria medication, he said. Appealing to journalists and Civil Society Organizations in Gombe State to raise more awareness to help communities know the consequences of untreated malaria and the need to get proper testing, diagnosis, prescription, and treatment.


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