an assessment of the print media in the promotion of the roll back malaria campaign in nigeria



1.1       Background of the Study

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms) belonging to the plasmodium type.  Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma and death. Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after being bitten. If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later. In those who have recently survived an infection, reinfection usually causes milder symptoms. This partial resistance disappears over months to years if the person has no continuing exposure to malaria.

The disease is most commonly transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The mosquito bite introduces the parasites from the mosquito’s saliva into a person’s blood (Beare, 2011). The parasites travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce. Five species of Plasmodium can infect and be spread by humans. Most deaths are caused by P. falciparum because P. vivax, P. ovale and P. malariae generally cause a milder form of malaria (Hartman, 2010). The species P. knowlesi rarely causes disease in humans. Malaria is typically diagnosed by the microscopic examination of blood using blood films or with antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests. Methods that use the polymerase chain reaction to detect the parasite’s DNA have been developed, but are not widely used in areas where malaria is common due to their cost and complexity (Collins, 2012).

According to Aguwa (2009.p,33) malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every minute. It infects approximately 219 million people each year (range 154 – 289 million), with an estimated 660,00 deaths, mostly children in Africa. Ninety percent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where malaria accounts for about one in six of all childhood deaths. The disease also contributes greatly to anaemia among children a major cause of poor growth and development. (AbouZahr, 2009)

In 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) World Bank, United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) conceived and partnered to create the Roll Back Malaria movement, with the welcome and necessary goal of halving malaria deaths by 2010 – the first major effort against the disease in four decades. The need for such an effort is abundantly clear: malaria places a huge burden on Sub-Saharan Africa, with 300 million people suffering acute illness each year, and one million dying, at least 70% of whom are children or pregnant women.

Roll Back Malaria was, initiated to promote an effective control strategy to combat the disease. This emphasizes rapid clinical case detection and treatment, use of insecticide treated bednets, management of malaria during pregnancy, and focal control of malaria transmission in emergency or epidemic situations. RBM’s ambition is to expand the use of these interventions in all countries where malaria is endemic, but especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of malaria deaths occur (Umechukwu, 2004).

Despite 50 years of world experience in malaria control, more people are dying of malaria now than when such campaigns began. Gro Harlem Brundtland announced on 13 May 1998 that one of her priorities as director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) is a new effort to “Roll Back Malaria.” The intention is to approach malaria in a new way. The greatest emphasis will be on strengthening health services, so that effective treatment and prevention strategies are accessible to all who need them. Roll Back Malaria is not another attempt to eradicate the disease; instead, the aim will be to halve malaria-associated mortality by 2010 and again by 2015. It will not be a separate entity that is “bolted on” to existing health services but will involve and strengthen all malaria-related activities across the health sector. It is not based just on new techniques; instead, it will apply existing tools more effectively, building on experiences of the past—failures and successes alike. It is not simply an ambitious public health initiative; it could also begin to demolish the artificial barriers that have developed between disease control specialists and health systems specialists.

The print media serves as a source of cultural, political, health and other educational and enlightenment programmes for the masses, leading them towards self-actualisation and national development (Ellinas, 2010). Print media is a medium of communication through which the individuals share the world around them and beyond their immediate environment. The print media educates citizens on new issues inherent in the society. For example, issues on health, politics, business, current affairs, etc, are aired to create awareness. Media serves as an agent of social mobilisation, people are moved to delivering a certain goal, based on their awareness of their rights and responsibility to the society (Cohen, 2001).

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