Dr Ayo Olofinjana, Chief Medical Director (CMD), Heal Healthcare, has advised doctors to always carryout thorough malaria diagnosis before treatment.
Olofinjana, a Public Health and General Medicine practitioner, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that such diagnosis would not only curb waste of resources but allow for better analysis and prescription of drugs.
She decried the situation where many patients who complained of feverish feelings were treated as malaria cases without proper diagnosis or running appropriate tests.
The medical practitioner explained that many diseases such as acute viral infections and cancers could also cause fevers.
“It does not mean all cases of fever are malaria. But most patients that come in are treated for malaria, even without them being tested first for it.
“Sometimes, even though the test shows negative result, they go ahead and start treating for malaria.
“As a result, there’s waste of resources because they’re giving drugs to someone who doesn’t have malaria,’’ she said.
The doctor also decried the practice of self-prescription by patients, whom, she said “also go to hospitals and insist that doctors treat them for malaria because of symptoms like fever, aches and pains’’.
She noted, that such symptoms could mean either stress, infection or a condition that needed further investigation through diagnosis, and advised practitioners to always carry out tests before treatment of complaint of malaria.
“Don’t treat malaria except a patient has been tested. There must be evidence that a patient has malaria before they go ahead and treat,’’ she said.
Olofinjana also advised patients with feverish condition, particularly those who find themselves regularly treating malaria to go for a full blood work.
She said: “We had a patient that came in with a fever. He had been taking a lot of medications for malaria.
“By the time we did a full blood count on him and tested his urine, we discovered that he had Leukaemia all the while.’’
She called on doctors to increase the awareness level of patients about malaria.
“If there’s a lot of awareness on the social and community level about these things, we won’t have these problems,’’ she said.
Olofinjana said it was rather unfortunate that many patients wait to visit the hospital, after their condition became critical from patronage of either quacks or alternative health practitioners.
She recommended that health practitioners, especially, doctors should cultivate the habit of reaching out to their patients rather than wait for patients to come to the hospitals.
“I think we need to bridge the gap. We need to start going to the communities.
“Doctors should visit the communities and educate the people about malaria, by telling them that ‘it’s not only when you have a fever that you have malaria.
“Tell them to go to health centres and hospitals and insist on running tests for treatment, people will do it. They will understand,’’ she said.