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Home » Infectious Diseases » Mairo’s vital role in defeating severe malaria as a children’s health nurse

Dr Olusola Oresanya

Senior Country Technical Coordinator, Malaria Consortium, Nigeria

Mairo is the matron of an emergency paediatric unit at a hospital in Nigeria. She is part of a team caring for seriously ill children experiencing severe malaria.

Caregivers anxiously wait by bedsides, hoping treatments will work and their loved ones make a full recovery. Severe malaria is a medical emergency resulting from delayed treatment of ‘uncomplicated malaria.’ It puts people at risk of serious illness, organ failure and death.

Saving children from malaria

Mairo juggles various tasks to prevent the deaths of the children on beds a few feet from her desk. She is a leader to the junior nurses, counsellor to worried caregivers, stock-keeper of vital malaria commodities and friendly face to children receiving treatment.

Children arrive at the hospital, often following referral by a community health worker, trained as part of the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services programme to spot malaria symptoms.

Children are triaged to determine how sick they are and receive a ‘rapid diagnostic test’ to confirm they test positive for malaria. If they have symptoms including deep breathing, hypoglycaemia or convulsions, they may have severe malaria and require an enhanced level of medical inquiry, treatment and care.

Support health workers to save lives

Mairo’s ward stocks artesunate, a WHO-recommended injectable for severe malaria first-line treatment. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are key, and this is the work that Mairo does, day after day.

Across Nigeria, malaria is a major health concern. In 2022, the country accounted for over a quarter of the 249 million cases globally and almost a third of all malaria-related deaths. In Kano state and hospital wards like Mairo’s, these statistics are made real by the young children, often under five years old, occupying the beds.

Malaria Consortium is working with Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, the National Malaria Elimination Programme and Kano State Elimination Programme to strengthen the diagnosis and case management of severe malaria and build the skills of health workers like Mairo.

Sustained action and investment in malaria can increase the availability of essential equipment, train more health workers and support wider health system strengthening in Nigeria and across malaria-endemic countries.

Find out how you can help ensure every child has a chance of a healthy life. Click here to learn more.

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