Malaria has always been a part of Suyi’s life. Growing up in Nigeria, he suffered mild cases of malaria several times and his mother, a nurse, has treated malaria cases in their community for many years.
Inspired and fascinated by his mother’s work in community health, Suyi decided to go to medical school in Lagos, Nigeria and went on to work at one of the main hospitals in the city. While malaria cases were a daily fixture of hospital life, Suyi was also hopeful in the knowledge that it’s a treatable and preventable disease.
“The effects malaria has on people are really vast. The symptoms of malaria in itself are tough … and unfortunately, there are many who lose their lives. However, we often forget about the people that survive, this can sometimes be only the beginning of their battle. There can be complications including blindness, loss of speech and brain damage.
We also need to pay attention to the social consequences, becoming ill with malaria means children missing vital days of school and parents unable to work to earn money to support their families.
Suyi’s first rotation as a qualified doctor was on the paediatrics ward. Children under 5 are the most vulnerable group to malaria accounting for 67% of malaria deaths in Africa. Seeing extremely sick children being admitted to hospital every day was a defining moment for him as a young doctor.
The fight against malaria matters to me because it is something that we can actually end. We shouldn’t be here, we shouldn’t still be talking about this - It is one of the oldest diseases known to man, we should have ended this disease a long time ago instead of allowing people to die from it.
As a doctor Suyi stresses that we know how to prevent, treat and most importantly end malaria for good - if we can eliminate this deadly disease, we can free up time and resources to focus on other diseases: “ I am looking forward to the day where we can say we have ended malaria and are able to dedicate more time and resources to the other healthcare problems that we have.”
In 2016, Suyi moved to the UK to continue working as a doctor. He has first-hand experience of the stark contrast in medical diagnosis and treatment of malaria and most importantly accessibility to healthcare between both Nigeria and the UK. Suyi is determined to make a difference and work to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare, especially in countries where malaria represents a constant risk to life.
Suyi is concerned that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the focus has diverted away from malaria - risking a surge in malaria cases and deaths: