Malaria Fighter: Dr. Lazarus Samdi

“The PMI AIRS Project has generated national data on the current insecticide resistance status across Nigeria. This is guiding Nigeria’s National Malaria Elimination Program in the fight against malaria.”

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Dr. Lazarus Samdi



Dr. Lazarus Samdi has spent the past 14 years studying mosquitoes and a lifetime fighting malaria, personally and professionally. As a child growing up in the State of Borno in Nigeria, Dr. Samdi battled repeated bouts of malaria.

“I still recall vividly my childhood experiences of shivering and having body aches and pains and particularly having to receive the usual painful chloroquine injections, which I always reacted to by scratching my body all over due to the itching that it caused. I grew up terrified of mosquitoes and malaria. In a way, my curiosity to know more about mosquitoes encouraged my sojourn into the field of entomology.”

And sojourn he did. With a PhD in Applied Entomology from the Department of Zoology, University of Jos, Nigeria, Dr. Samdi has studied all over the world. He received his certification as a Mosquito Identification Specialist at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, University of Florida and studied Mosquito Insectary Design /Management and basic morphological identification of anopheline mosquitoes at the Vector Control Reference Unit of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in South Africa.

In 2012, Dr. Samdi joined The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) Project as the Entomology Coordinator in Nigeria. Dr. Samdi supervises operations of the project’s insectary, conducts basic morphological and taxonomic identification of all mosquito samples from the six project sentinel sites in Nigeria and supervises routine field entomology surveillance at the different sentinel sites.


Morphological identification of anopheline mosquitoes in the field helps to determine which mosquitoes transmit malaria.

Clearly, this man knows his mosquitoes. Dr. Samdi shared a few of his insights about his work, the project and Nigeria’s National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP).

The PMI AIRS Project: How have you seen the field of malaria and entomology change since you started working in it?

Dr. Samdi: Over the years, there has been an increase in funding for malaria research and control. Technological advances have also enabled the use of remote sensing (GIS) for mapping of malaria vectors. Furthermore, a multi-disciplinary approach has been adopted for malaria control. In Nigeria, the private sector is gradually taking active interest in malaria control thereby laying the foundation for a robust Public Private partnership in the nearest future.

What impact have you seen from the project?

Dr. Samdi: The PMI AIRS Project has generated national data on the current insecticide resistance status across Nigeria, making data available to the NMEP for evidence-based malaria programming in the country. This is guiding the NMEP in the fight against malaria. Also, the project partnered with the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, to establish an insectary within the institution. The insectary serves to train medical entomologists among others. Based on its success, the university is currently considering establishing a department of Medical Entomology to further support entomological research and ultimately contribute to combating malaria in the country.

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Dr. Samdi feeds anopheline mosquito larvae in the insectary. Insectaries are important to ensure a supply of mosquitoes for entomological monitoring.

What is your hope for Nigeria’s NMEP?

Dr. Samdi: My hope is that the Nigerian Government will increasingly support the NMEP with more resources to ultimately become more self-reliant. I also hope the NMEP will have a major paradigm shift in its malaria vector control strategy by taking Nigeria’s geographical differences into consideration and therefore stratifying its intervention strategies based on local vector ecology. There is the need for the Government of Nigeria and funding agencies to further invest in establishing more malaria vector sentinel sites across the country. I hope to see more interagency collaborations involving the NMEP which will create a synergy of different professions to aid malaria control, for instance, partnering with the Nigerian Centre for Remote Sensing to map out vector breeding places across different ecological zones for in-depth study. I also hope to see the increasing involvement of the private sector in supporting NMEP activities.

Do you think Nigeria will ever be malaria-free?

Dr. Samdi: I hesitate to say Nigeria will be malaria-free very soon. Rather, I am inclined to say that Nigeria can reasonably control malaria through vector control if some foundation guidelines specific to Nigeria are followed. However, I am cautiously optimistic about only my own part of Nigeria, the semi-arid northeastern Nigeria where malaria vector breeding sites are discrete. In this area there is a predominance of approximately 98 percent of one type of vector, which can be targeted with indoor residual spraying and nets. These semi-arid parts of the country can possibly be malaria-free soon if more resources are made available. For the entire country, it may take quite some time to see the dream of being malaria-free come to actualization. However, it is quite possible the country could be malaria-free if Nigeria’s media, which is one of the strongest and possibly the richest in Africa, can face malaria the same way it faced Ebola, highlighting the risk factors involved in malaria and its attendant impact on mortality, morbidity, and Nigeria’s economy.


Collecting mosquito larvae in the field.



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