The Coordinator of National Malaria Elimination Programme, (NEMP), has asked the federal government to tackle malaria as a national health emergency in the same manner COVID-19 pandemic is being handled.
Against the background of increasing poverty in the country, Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN) has said there is a direct linkage between malaria scourge and the level of poverty in communities.
Speaking at a meeting with the civil society group involved in anti malaria advocacy, Coordinator of NEMP, said the current level of funding of the health sector by government is unacceptably low.
"You can see that we are all wearing face masks today, but we can decide to free ourselves from it by freeing our environment of malaria. It is not only COVID-19 that is an emergency, in the same way, we should have it on our minds that we can free ourselves from malaria," he said.
The Coordinator who was represented by Dr. Lilian Oguguo said the country is presently not properly covered by anti malaria programmes, adding that only 13 states are being covered by the Global Fund-assisted malaria elimination programme.
She also said the federal and state governments habe been failing in their responsibility to provide counterpart funds where such are needed.
"Nigeria is grossly living on borrowed money for funding our health intervention programme " she said.
Oguguo said the call for an emergency declaration on malaria has become necessary now that funds from major donor agencies, like the Global Fund is shrinking.
Earlier, the coordinator of ACOMIN, Ayo Ipinmoye said malaria and poverty are intimately connected.
He said that as a root cause and a consequence of poverty, malaria is most intractable for the poorest countries and communities in the world that face a vicious cycle of poverty and ill health.
According to Ipinmoye, the Earth Institute, University of Colombia described malaria as the disease of the poor.
He also quoted Professor Jeff Sachs as having said that ending malaria is the most important priority in lifting Africa out of poverty.
He argued "that it is no coincidence that the only parts of Africa that have significantly reduced malaria are the northern and southern tips, home to the richest countries on the continent. In the Western Hemisphere, the country with the worst malaria, Haiti, also happens to be the poorest country in that region."
Ipinmoye said that ACOMIN is going collaborate with the media in mounting sustained public awareness on the ways and means of eradicating the malaria scourge in Nigeria.