Nigeria: States, Experts Reel Out Strategies Towards Zero Malaria in Nigeria

29 April 2021

In an effort towards achieving a Malaria Free Nigeria, some state governments and top healthcare professionals have reeled out some strategies deployed in combatting the disease in the various states across the country

They made this known recently at the St Racheal's Pharma 2021 World Malaria Day Colloquium with the theme: Reaching the Zero Malaria Target.

In his address, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, St. Racheal's Pharma, Akinjide Adeosun, said in order to reach zero malaria target in Nigeria, there must be increased funding for anti-malaria initiatives, as well as optimised existing anti malaria funds utilisation in all states across the country.

In his opening remark titled, 'Hope For A Zero Malaria Future In Nigeria', Adeosun posited that, with Nigeria's huge population of 205 million people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over USD 400billion, "the sub-national and national governments should allocate one percent of their 2022-2032 budgets to anti-malaria initiatives".

He also urged the governments to broaden access to micro-insurance, especially to the economically and geographically disadvantaged, as well as develop national malaria database to address paucity of data to drive targeted interventions.

He further called for increased access to diagnostics (rapid diagnostic test) and procurement of safe, high quality and affordable antimalarials, as well as increased awareness of the citizenry on malaria prevention, testing and treatment.

He, however, called for increased private sector participation in anti-malaria programmes and initiatives, adding that "with these reality, Nigeria can surmount the 23 per cent of global malaria death burden", which according to him "is at least 30 times greater than the COVID-19 fatality in Nigeria in 2019".

Also speaking, Wife of the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Dr Bola Njoku, lamented that governments lack the capacity and political will for sustainability of approaches put in place to tackle the burden of malaria in the country.

"Unfortunately, Nigeria depends highly on developing partners for her sustainable programmes on malaria prevention and treatment, and seeing it as the only way the country can move forward.

"Most of the drugs, consumables and commodities used in the fight against malaria in Nigeria are imported as none is produced locally," she said

Njoku further remarked that the health in the country was "grossly underfunded", noting that the little funds are not well utilised nor programmes integrated to yield optimum results in malaria elimination.

She concluded by calling for implementation of community-based health insurance to cater for the people at the grassroots.

Also speaking, the Quality Assurance Manager, Vcare Diagnostics Limited, Prince Abiola Adejumobi, said, reaching zero malaria index involves effect vector elimination approach by the use of chemical agents, "that is, the insecticide; case identification, which involves laboratory diagnosis and effective chemotherapy for the patient, which is the use of drugs, vaccines and every other agents to enable the affected patients recover".

Adding that, medical laboratory approach is very critical for the elimination of malaria, he posited that "if we really want to break that transmission chain, getting diagnosis and identifying people that have malaria is very key to enable us treat them on time and if possible isolate them like the same thing we did for COVID-19.

" This will actually go a long way in helping to solve the problem of malaria elimination".

Also speaking, Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, said the state has applied several workable strategies to ensure total elimination in the state, which has shown a positive results according to statistics.

He said the state flagged off programme that takes care of children directly from the home, with provision being made to give them the necessary care as well as the pregnant women getting all forms of necessary antenatal care including the intermittent treatment of malaria.

He however lamented that people do not present themselves at the health facilities when the sickness is mild, as they only come to the facilities when it is complicated.

He noted that, "this was why the state government made provisions to ensure that antimalarial therapy are giving to all patients free of charge in all the state public health facilities including the primary healthcare centres."

The Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Ogun State, Dr. Festus Soyinka, said the state, in its 2021 appropriation bill targeted to improve access and utilisation of vector control intervention to at least 80 per cent of the state's population by the end of the year.

According to him, the state is addressing the issue of stock out of commodities and drugs for the treatmet of malaria in its public health facilites, "which is a challenge limiting the state from achieving positive results in eliminating the disease".

The Director of Disease Control, Ministry of Health, Lagos State, Dr. Rotimi Agbolagorite, said malaria is endemic in the state and poses a major challenge to the state as it impedes human development.

According to him, "malaria is known to be the cause of underdevelopment in a state and one of the leading causes of morbidity in a state.

"The cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, coupled with the people's behaviour and the abundant distribution of people in the coastal areas, encourage the availability of stagnant water for the breeding of anopheles mosquitoes."

Agbolagorite said these are responsible for the stable pattern and the continuous transmission of the disease all year round across the state, as well as unstable support from international donors with no local support for the malaria elimination programme.

He however noted that the state government has "made provision for preventive drugs for treatment of malaria in pregnancy and under five children in public health facilities, and other consumables and commodities free of charge."

On his part, the Permanent Secretary , Ministry of Health, Ekiti State, Akinjide Akinleye, said the state government layed emphasis on environmental management, which includes effective refuse disposal and management.

"We also have embarked on covering of all water storage containers, clearing of drainage and gutters, proper dredging of channels, clearing surrounding bushes among others to prevent mosquitoes from breeding."

Akinleye said if the vectors are prevented the incidence of malaria would decrease consequently, especially with the monthly environmental sanitation organised and executed to ensure that the people have a clean environment.

Adding that, "violators are usually sanctioned according to the provisions of the law, adding that currently, Ekiti state has recorded a huge success through this active intervention, with about 45 percent reduction in malaria compared to 2019."

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