Malaria

It is common during festive seasons to over-indulge in food and drinks. But this is not good, especially for those that care about their fitness. So, now that the end-of-year festivities are winding down, it is important to create a healthy living plan. Esta Morenikeji, a fitness instructor and founder of Zonefitness Ng said January is usually the time of year, when many people make commitments and promises to lose weight and get fit. “That’s why detox and cleansing programmes sell like water in January. New fad diets will pop up everywhere, and one or two magic teas might catch your attention. Please, don’t allow yourself to get caught in the web of fad diets,” she said.

The following are steps to guide you in the quest for a healthy living:
Stick to the Fundamentals
THERE are no magic formulas for weight loss; there are only fundamentals. Fad diets will come and go, but the fundamentals will remain.
The Fundamentals:
• Practise time-restricted feeding (Don’t eat in-between meals)
• Eat real food (It’s even better, if you can grow or kill it) ​
• Eliminate or avoid highly processed foods
• Avoid added sugar
​• Eat more nutrient dense food and less calorie dense food
• Do not overeat
• ​Drink enough water

A dietary strategy that works for you today may not work tomorrow, but the fundamentals will always work. So, stick to the fundamentals. They always work!

Prioritise Sleep
ONE of the worst things you can do to your health and well-being is staying awake, when your body is supposed to be resting and rejuvenating. Studies have shown that sleep is the master regulator of our hormones. Therefore, you must prioritise sleep in 2020.

If you’re one of those people that are always on their phones or watching television until midnight, you need to stop! Being awake when you’re supposed to be sleeping is disruptive to your circadian rhythm, and can increase your risk factors for certain lifestyle-related diseases. For every hour you spend on your phone at night, the production of melatonin is suppressed by 30 minutes.

Melatonin is the sleep hormone. The human body begins to secrete melatonin as darkness begins to fall. The appearance of darkness signals the body to wind down and prepare for rest.

The blue light from electronic devices suppresses the production of melatonin, thereby, confusing our brain and messing up our circadian rhythm. For the human body, darkness means rest and light means to be alert.

So, you’re sending confusing signals to your brain, when you stay up late at night scrolling through social media or watching television. Several studies have shown that sleep deprivation disrupts the appetite-regulating hormones, thereby causing unnecessary weight gain. Nighttime is for sleep. So, don’t spend it staring at your phone or watching television. Get off your electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime.

Do Regular Breathing Exercises 
Incorporating regular breathing exercises into your day can be beneficial to your overall health. In a study that involved 21,563 participants, researchers found that systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and pulse rate significantly reduced after six cycles of deep breathing exercise.

Yes, you read that right: deep breathing exercise causes a reduction in blood pressure and slows down the heart rate. Make it a habit to take six to 20 deep breathes throughout the day. Breathing exercises can be done anywhere, so no excuses not to do them.

Neem oil is an extract of the neem tree. Some practitioners of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine use neem oil to treat conditions ranging from ulcers to fungal infections.

This type of oil contains several compounds, including fatty acids and antioxidants, that can benefit the skin.

Below, find out about the uses and potential benefits of neem oil, as well as the risks. We also provide tips for using neem oil on the skin.

What is neem oil?

Neem oil derives from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree. These trees grow mainly in the Indian subcontinent.

Neem oil is rich in fatty acidsTrusted Source, such as palmitic, linoleic, and oleic acids, which help support healthy skinTrusted Source. The oil is, therefore, a popular ingredient in skin care products.

The leaf of the plant also provides health benefits. The leaves contain plant compounds called flavonoids and polyphenols, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) note that neem oil contains azadirachtin, a natural pesticide.

Benefits for the skin

Researchers have only recently begun to examine how plant compounds influence health and disease. As a result, few scientific studies have investigated the use of neem oil in general skincare or as a treatment for skin conditions.

Authors of a 2013 reviewTrusted Source of the available research into medicinal uses of neem concluded that its extracts can help treat a variety of skin conditions, including:

  • acne
  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • ringworm
  • warts

The following are some benefits of neem oil and the evidence behind these claims.

First, however, it is important to note that most of the studies involved cell lines or animals. Those that did involve humans only included small numbers of participants. This makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of neem in the general population.

Anti-aging effects

2017 study investigated the anti-aging effects of topical neem leaf extract in hairless mice. The researchers first exposed the mice to skin-damaging ultraviolet B radiation. They then applied neem oil to the skin of some of the rodents.

The team concluded that the oil was effective in treating the following symptoms of skin aging:

  • wrinkles
  • skin thickening
  • skin redness
  • water loss

The researchers also found that the extract boosted levels of a collagen-producing enzyme called procollagen and a protein called elastin.

Collagen gives the skin structure, making it look plump and full, while elastin helps retain the skin’s shape.

Production of these compounds decreases as people age. This eventually leads to dry, deflated-looking, thin skin and the formation of wrinkles.

Promoting wound healing

Research suggests that neem oil may help enhance wound healing.

In one 2010 animal study, researchers discovered that neem oil showed superior wound healing effects, compared with Vaseline. Specifically, the rats that received topical neem oil healed more quickly. They also developed stronger and more resilient tissue at the sites of their wounds.

A similar 2013 study compared the effects of saline and neem oil on wound healing in rats. Those that received neem oil healed faster and did not develop raised scars.

The researchers speculated that compounds in neem oil may promote blood vessel and connective tissue growth, thus enhancing wound healing.

2014 study investigated whether a gel containing neem oil and St. John’s wort could help reduce skin toxicity from radiation therapy. The study involved 28 human participants who were receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

All participants experienced some reduction in skin toxicity following treatment with the gel. However, it is important to note that this study did not include a placebo control.

Fighting skin infections

2019 studyTrusted Source examined the antibacterial properties of cosmetic products containing neem compounds. The authors found that soaps containing extracts of neem leaf or neem bark prevented the growth of several strains of bacteria.

Risks

Most people can use neem oil safely. However, the EPA consider the oil to be a “low toxicity” substance. It can, for example, cause allergic reactions, such as contact dermatitis.

Also, while ingesting trace amounts of neem oil will likely not cause harm, consuming large quantities can cause adverse effects, especially in children. These may include:

  • vomiting
  • liver damage
  • metabolic acidosis
  • encephalopathy, a term for brain disease, disorder, or damage

How to use it

People should use organic, cold-pressed neem oil. The oil should have a cloudy, yellow-brown color and a strong odor.

Neem oil is generally safe to apply to the skin. However, it is very potent, so it may be a good idea to test it on a small patch of skin before applying it more extensively.

To perform a patch test, mix a couple drops of neem oil with water or liquid soap. Apply the mixture to a small area of skin on the arm or the back of the hand.

If the skin becomes red, inflamed, or itchy, dilute the neem oil further by adding more water or liquid soap. Test this mixture on a different area of skin and watch for any signs of irritation.

People who are allergic to neem oil may develop hives or a rash after a patch test. If this happens, stop using the oil — and any products that contain it — immediately.

Treating skin conditions

Some people use neem oil to treat various skin conditions, including infections and acne.

To use it as a spot treatment, apply a small amount of diluted oil to the affected skin. Let the mixture soak into the skin, then rinse it off with warm water.

Neem oil has a particularly strong odor. To disguise it, try mixing neem oil with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, coconut, or almond oil. Carrier oils also help the skin absorb neem oil.

Summary

Neem oil has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Despite this, researchers have only recently begun exploring the potential applications of neem oil in Western medicine.

Neem oil contains fatty acids, antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds, and these can benefit the skin in a range of ways. Research shows that these compounds may help fight skin infections, promote wound healing, and combat signs of skin aging.

To use neem oil as part of a skincare routine, mix it with water or a carrier oil. It is important to do a patch test when trying neem oil for the first time.

Neem oil is available for purchase online.

Some people experience a reaction to neem oil, such as contact dermatitis. If this occurs, stop using the oil.

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MOSQUITO
MOSQUITO

As leaders from donor and malaria-affected countries, governments, business, philanthropic and international organisations come together today to reignite efforts to beat malaria, the United Kingdom is set to commit £50 million (N25,757,154,000.00) to malaria programme in Nigeria even as it pledged £9.2 million to fund new research on development of new triple Artemisinin Combination Treatments.

Ahead of the Malaria Summit London 2018, co-hosted by the governments of Rwanda, Swaziland and the UK, the UK government re-affirmed its commitment to spend £500 million a year on malaria through to 2020 to 2021.

As part of this, the UK announced a further £100 million match fund commitment to the Global Fund to match new contributions from private donors pound for pound. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will extend its investments in malaria with additional $1 billion through to 2023 by fund R&D efforts and reduce the burden of the disease towards ending malaria for good.

The commitment was in response to the global malaria community appeal to Commonwealth leaders to make a game-changing commitment to halve malaria across the Commonwealth within the next five years.

This they said would prevent 350 million cases of malaria and save 650,000 lives, predominately children and pregnant women who are most at risk.

Findings show that Nigeria has the largest funding gap in malaria elimination in Africa.

Nigeria faces a financial gap of N504 billion ($1.4 billion) to implement its national malaria strategy by 2020, according to the 2017 World Malaria Report, a publication by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In addition to constituting 27 percent of malaria cases worldwide, out of 30 African countries analysed in the report, Nigeria alone accounts for 53 percent of the $1.3 billion funding gap for essential commodities that include 76 percent of the funding gap in Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) and 86 percent of the funding gap for Rapid Diagnostic Test kits (RDTs).

Revelation

The WHO made known that in 2016, for the first time in a decade, the number of malaria cases in the world was on the rise and in some areas there was resurgence.

“Malaria is fighting back as the mosquito and the parasite develop resistance to the interventions we use to fight them. This has been compounded by a plateau in global funding for malaria since 2010, climate change, which intensifies incidences of malaria, and acute malaria outbreaks found in areas of crisis, war and conflict.

“To accelerate the fight against this disease there needs to be better deployment of existing tools and development of new and innovative solutions.

The commitments focus on three important areas to fight resurgence of the disease. The effective tools (nets, sprays and treatments) in the fight against malaria are under threat from drug and insecticide resistance. The malaria parasite and the mosquitoes that carry it are evolving resistance to existing interventions – malaria is fighting back.

The Malaria Summit calls for new tools to stay ahead of the disease, announcing commitments to invest in future innovations.

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Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

According to the Director, Centre for Malaria Care, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Prof. Olugbenga Mokuolu, malaria is a serious disease that can often be fatal; hence the need to refrain from describing it as “ordinary malaria.”

Mokuolu notes that malaria is caused by parasites that infect specific mosquitoes and, contrary to what many people might think, it is an infection that can be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby!

Mother to child transmission

Experts warn that one in 20 pregnant mothers could infect their babies if they develop malaria very close to the time of delivery. They say it is one reason why pregnant women must not be exposed to mosquitoes at any point in time.

The Managing Director, Society for Family Health, Mr. Bright Ekweremadu, notes that while deaths due to malaria have fallen by half globally since 2000, with about 4.3 million deaths averted, in 2015 alone, there were estimated 438,000 malaria deaths globally. Over the last 15 years, there has been a remarkable decline in the global malaria burden, according to the World Health Organisation.

“What this translates into is that the war against malaria is not over until we achieve zero malarial infection and zero malarial death,” Ekweremadu says.

At risk population

While anyone can come down with malaria, there are people who are heavily exposed to the bites of mosquitoes infected with P. falciparum and on whom malaria can wreak terrible havoc because of their peculiarities.

Mokuolu notes that the disease can have debilitating effects on people who have little or no immunity to malaria, such as young children and pregnant women.

Again, experts say, those whose spleens have been removed, as well as people who suffer from sickle cell anaemia are at huge risk of severe malaria infection.

Symptoms to watch

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria symptoms can be classified into two categories: uncomplicated and severe malaria.

Experts say uncomplicated malaria is diagnosed when symptoms are present, but there are no clinical or laboratory signs to indicate a severe infection or the dysfunction of vital organs.

“Individuals suffering from this form can eventually develop severe malaria if the disease is left untreated or if they have poor or no immunity to the disease,” experts say.

They note that symptoms of uncomplicated malaria typically last between six and 10 hours and they occur in cycles every second day, although some strains of the parasite can cause a longer cycle or mixed symptoms.

“Symptoms are often flu-like and may be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed if appropriate diagnosis methods are not used,” Mokuolu warns.

Experts at CDC say uncomplicated malaria typically has the following progression of symptoms through cold, hot and sweating stages. They include sensation of cold, shivering fever, headaches and vomiting, while seizures sometimes occur in young children.

They add that the patient can also experience sweating followed by a return to normal temperature, with tiredness.

On the other hand, severe malaria is defined by clinical or laboratory evidence of vital organ dysfunction. This form has the capacity to be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms of severe malaria include fever and chills, impaired consciousness, prostration (adopting a prone or prayer position), multiple convulsions, deep breathing and respiratory distress, abnormal bleeding and signs of anaemia, clinical jaundice and evidence of vital organ dysfunction.

Other symptoms include rigor, headaches and other body aches, not feeling well, loss of appetite, vomiting, joint weakness/pains, palms or eyes may be white; and in complicated cases, the patient may suffer loss of consciousness, extreme weakness, dark urine and jaundice.

Mokuolu says there is no reliable symptom that can make anyone to be sure you have malaria, because not every fever is malaria. “So, the best practice is to have your blood tested for the presence of the parasites. This can be either by rapid diagnostic tests or microscopy,” he explains.

Experts warn that severe malaria is a medical emergency and the person has to be admitted so that they can have sound medical attention.

What we can do

Ekweremadu says the national malaria control programmes have been developed to take special measures to protect vulnerable population groups from malaria infection, taking into consideration their specific circumstances.

He adds that working with the Global Fund’s new funding model, the goal of the Society for Family Health is to ensure timely availability of appropriate antimalarial medicines and commodities required for prevention a and treatment of malaria in Nigeria by 2018 and sustained through to 2020, among others.

PUNCH.

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Malaria in pregnancy should be considered a medical emergency as it does more harm to the fetus than envisaged, the Head, Case Management Branch, National Malaria Elimination Programme, Dr. Godson Ntadom has said.

He noted that while malaria parasites in non pregnant persons feed on nutrients from the red blood cell of its host, that of pregnant women prefers to stay in the placenta where it feeds on the nutrients meant to supply the fetus because of its richness, thereby starving the fetus to death.

Speaking during the NMEP, Health Communication Capacity Collaboration and Health Editors interactive section in Lagos recently, he said, “during the period the parasites are feeding on the nutrients coming into the placenta meant for the fetus, the woman will not feel the signs of malaria because technically the placenta is not part of her body. It is when the parasites are full and satisfied that they now move into the woman’s blood stream, and at which point, she will start noticing malaria symptoms.”

Ntadom said it was a medical emergency because the point the woman starts noticing malaria signs means the parasites have starved the fetus of its needed developmental nutrients and are satisfied with the placenta.

“By this time they will then move to the woman’s blood where she will start filling the symptoms of the disease. There is a high possibility that at this point the damage may have been done to the fetus. That is why it is a medical emergency to see if the situation can be remedied,” he added.

He said contrary to popular belief that anti-malaria drugs were not good for treating malaria in pregnancy, the medical expert said it was the parasites that kill the fetus and not the drugs.

“Often times, pregnant women start treating malaria when they start noticing malaria signs, but what most people don’t know is that before a pregnant woman start noticing the symptoms, the parasites must have done damage to the fetus through feeding on the placenta. It is when the parasite is done with the placenta (probably damaged the fetus) that the woman can start noticing signs,” Ntadom said.

Meanwhile, Ntadom has reiterated Federal Government’s earlier decision to ban the use of Chloroquine and mono-therapy drugs for the treatment of malaria in Nigeria.

He said the emphasis on the ban on Chloroquine and mono-therapy drugs were necessary as some persons still sell them to unsuspecting patients.

“Apart from mono-therapy injections which are used for treatment of severe malaria, its drugs and Chloroquine have long been banned by government. It is a criminal offense for any health personnel to sell them to patients,” he added.

In the same vein, he said Nigerians do not need medicines for the prevention of malaria, adding that only pregnant women and foreigners should be given such recommendations.

“The one presently recommended now is Malarone which is a combination of two medicines and it is for foreigners who probably would be staying in the country for a short time.

He said the citizens were free to visit NMEP website www.ncmp.gov.ng for informations on malaria in Nigeria.