On May 4, 2012, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year's World Malaria Day.
The event, which was hosted by the Rivers State government, was attended by the minister of health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu as well as representatives of Lagos and Bayelsa states governments. The explanation was that this year's celebration was brought to Rivers State due to commitment and political will exhibited by the state government in the fight to eradicate malaria in the state.
Speaking when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at government house, Port Harcourt, the minister of health said malaria could be contained through the cooperation of Nigerians and other partners.
Chukwu said that this year theme of the World Malaria Day Celebration is "Sustain Gains, Save Lives" saying "we are sustaining that relationship with you, by so doing we would continue to save lives and continue to ask you and others to continue to invest in this campaign".
"The campaign to eliminate malaria is not only from Nigeria but indeed from the whole of Africa and the rest of the world, and so our slogan is let us work together. We are here with the whole team to ensure that we sustain what Nigeria has achieved in terms of malaria control".
But Amaechi said he would sustain the fight against malaria to ensure its elimination in the state having set the end of 2015 as target to achieve that. The governor added, "First, we started by buying one million insecticide treated nets, which we distributed in the state before we got introduced to the larvacidal control of malaria and even got the franchise from the Cuban government".
"We believe that the government must do everything possible to fight malaria. I am informed that the scourge of malaria appears to be higher than all forms of diseases that we have here and we are therefore going to sustain the war against it".
Dr. Kalada Dick Iruenabere, the co-ordinator of the Malaria Elimination Project (MEP) in the state said that the war to eliminate mosquitoes and malaria had already begun in the state and was sure of winning it before 2015. Iruenabere said, "This state will be free from malaria if the programme continues unabated in the next two to three years".
He added that the project is solely funded by the state government in collaboration with a Cuban firm, the Lavio firm, saying that the state government had already signed two agreements for the supply application and production of the bio-lavasite chemical used for the war against mosquito and malaria.
He said that the first contract to supply and application of the chemical, cost the state about $12 million, while the second contract to set up the factory, would cost the state about $32 Million.
Iruenabere, who revealed that the factory project was yet to take off because of fund, said that the state was sourcing fund from the ECOWAS Bank of Investment and that the eradication of malaria project was originally on ECOWAS programme but that the state keyed into it because of its interest to eradicate mosquito and malaria. Noting that the state was the only state in the federation that was building such factory to produce bio-lavasite, the MEP coordinator said that bio-lavasite had remained a potent weapon against mosquito and effectiveness of it had made the federal government to key into the fight against malaria.
For all indications, the fight against malaria has begun in Rivers State and it is a must win battle for not just the Amaechi-led administration but for the entire people and visitors to the state.