Nigeria has the highest malaria cases in the world –Health minister
By AZOMA CHIKWE,OGE OKONKWO and ONYEKACHI JET
Tuesday, May 08 , 2012

Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu

The Minister for Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, has disclosed that one of the successes recorded by the national malaria control efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health is an increase in the percentage of households with at least one Insecticidal Treated Nets/ Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (ITN/LLIN).

Speaking at a recent ministerial dinner in honour of media practitioners in Lagos, the minster, who also revealed that in Africa, malaria related deaths had been cut short by one third, also noted that in Nigeria, a 2010 malaria household survey indicated that there was an increase in the number of pregnant women who receive two or more doses of IPT from 9.0 to 16 -6 per cent.

Chukwu, who said malaria contributed to 11 per cent of maternal deaths and 30 percent of child deaths in Nigeria noted that the trend should not be allowed to continue. He therefore, solicited the support of the media in educating Nigerians on the importance of total eradication of malaria.
Dr. Ahmed Aliu who spoke on behalf of Exonmobil said the company has committed 110 million US Dollars since 2000 globally in the fight against malaria. In the area of vaccine development ha said, “Exonmobil puts a lot of money to see that the vaccine is developed to fight the menace”.

Collaborators who pledged greater support to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) effort of the Roll-Back-Malaria programme, also called for more collaborations with the media in achieving a malaria-free Nigeria. “I like to declare that every other person is needed. The media is very important in this partnership”, Dr. Onuoha Nwokolo said.
In her presentation, National Coordinator, National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Mrs. Chioma Amajoh said out of the 91 percent of malaria in Africa, Nigeria harbors 25 percent , regretting that “malaria is taking away, a big chunk of our money, a big chunk of our children and a big chunk of our pregnant women, to combat the scourge, the NMCP adopted the Integrated Vector Management.

She also canvassed for media support in education Nigerians on the need for all to sleep under LLINs and the use of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACTs). She also emphasized the need for every pregnant woman to visit the clinic for the right and adequate malaria treatment to protect herself and unborn child from malaria, as well as inform and enlighten the populace on government efforts at combating the malaria scourge in the country.
This year’s World Malaria Day theme is“sustain gains, save lives, invest in malaria.”Malaria is one of the world’s biggest killers, claiming millions of lives yearly,this preventable and treatable disease also takes an immense economic toll on developing countries especially in Africa.

Research has shown that malaria robs Africa of more than$12 billion in lost productivity every year and accounts for about 40 percent of health expenditures.
Amajoh disclosed that between 2009 and 2011, the Federal government has distributed close to 50 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN) across the federation with about seven states yet to receive theirs.

Though government has done much in the fight against malaria, there are still challenges that are standing in the way of the fight. Inadequate funding, inadequate and equitable distribution of skilled human resources, sharp practices from drug distributors, global shortage of such drugs amongst others. Continuing Chukwu said,”it is important to note that Nigeria alone contributes 23 percent, which is almost a quarter of the global malaria cases. I must add that Nigeria has the highest malaria cases in the world. Malaria contributes to 11 percent of maternal deaths and 30 percent of child deaths in Nigeria. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen we cannot allow this trend to continue.

This is why we must work together.“Over the years we have been making efforts to contain the scourge of malaria in the country. Some of which include: massive nationwide distribution of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) – to date 46.8m Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) have been distributed so far in 30 states, scale up in the use of Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) and larviciding, massive distribution of antimalarial medicines and commodities, capacity building for health workers at both national and states’ levels, creation of awareness through radio and television and establishment of effective coordination structures at national and states levels.“

Investments in malaria control have created unprecedented momentum and yielded remarkable returns in the past years. In Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third within the last decade. In Nigeria, the Malaria Household Survey conducted in 2010 in 9 states of Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Kaduna in the north and Anambra, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Rivers in the south reveal as follows: an increase in the percentge of households with at least one ITN/LLIN from 2.2 percent to 88.0 percent, an increase in the percentage of children under 5 years of age who slept under nets the night preceding the survey from3.0 percent to 44.6 per cent, an increase in the percentage of children under 5 years of age with fever treated with an effective antimalarial within 24 hours from onset of symptom from 0.0 percent to 5.8 percent, an increase in the percentage of pregnant women who received 2 or more doses of IPT from 9.0 percent to 16.6 percent.

“We must work together to improve on this statistics and so I implore you all to encourage all Nigerians to sleep under Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets, those infected by malaria to use Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) within 24 hours of onset of illness, every pregnant woman to visit the clinic for Intermittent preventive Treatment with Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine after the 16th week to protect herself and her unborn child from malaria and to improve the vista of a good pregnancy outcome and the private sector and individuals to invest in malaria control activities.”

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