Ehanire calls for a greater private sector investment in malaria elimination

Honourable Minister of Health, Dr.Osagie Ehanire addressing the Press during the commemoration of 2020 World Malaria Day over the weekend in Abuja.
Honourable Minister of Health, Dr.Osagie Ehanire addressing the Press during the commemoration of 2020 World Malaria Day over the weekend in Abuja.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has called for a greater sub-national and Private sector investment in malaria elimination to achieve the vision of a malaria-free Nigeria.

The Minister made the call during the Ministerial Press briefing on the commemoration of 2020 World Malaria Day (WMD) at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, over the weekend.

According to Dr. Ehanire, The theme of this years’ commemoration is “Zero Malaria Starts with Me”, while the slogan is “Your fever could be Malaria, Get Tested!” The theme voices out our commitment to the achievement of a malaria-free Nigeria while the slogan tells of our earnest desire to have all fevers tested in the country particularly in this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing, he said that fever testing amongst children under 5 has increased consistently though, it is still very low when compared with the second objective of the Malaria Strategic plan which is to test all care-seeking persons with suspected malaria using RDT or microscopy.

The Minister pointed out that the nation has been confronted with the huge challenge of surmounting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and containing its spread in the country, while considerable successes have been recorded in the fight against COVID-19, we must not lose sight of other diseases especially Malaria, that is killing many Nigerians.

The Minister informed that malaria is still a public health challenge. According to the World Malaria Report, Nigeria still accounts for 25% of the global malaria burden and 19% of global malaria deaths. It is estimated that Nigeria accounts for 81,640 annual malaria deaths – about 9 deaths per hour. This situation is worsened by very low levels of investment in malaria elimination at both the sub-national levels and the private sector.

Dr. Ehanire revealed that in the past year in the programme; the Federal Ministry of Health, through the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) and partners, conducted high level advocacy visits to Delta, Gombe, Taraba, Kaduna, Niger, and Kano State which resulted in the provision of storage facilities for LLINs, provision of support for the airing of jingles, the flag-off of LLINs distribution and the monitoring of campaign activities by the State Governments.

He further disclosed that within the same period, the programme conducted Severe Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) in 6 out of the 9 eligible States in the Sahel region in the country and the activity brought a reduction in the malaria burden amongst children under five. According to the Minister, to ensure an accurate and reliable diagnosis of malaria, laboratories were strengthened through the training of laboratory personnel, External Quality Assurance (EQA) rollout, provision of quality reagents and materials among others.

The Minister appealed to all Nigerians to join the fight against malaria. “There is a role for every Nigerian: Keep your environment clean; Sleep inside the Long-lasting Insecticidal Nets; When feverish please go for a test and if positive ensure that you are treated with  Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT); and Get this information across to families and friends.

Earlier, the National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme, Dr. Audu Bale Mohammed, represented by the Director, Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr. Perpetual Uhomoibhi reiterated the need to sustain malaria control interventions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, in order not to have a reversal of the gains in malaria burden  reduction that Nigeria has recorded in the last couple of years due to robust scale up of preventive and treatment services by both government and the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partners.

According to the National Coordinator, the achievements include the development by NMEP of the business continuity plan in collaboration with the States ’Malaria Elimination Programme that ensure critical preventive services, such as Long Lasting Insecticide Net (LLIN) replacement Campagin continue in the eligible states. He further disclosed that malaria commodities, including RDTs and ACTs continue to reach health facilities for prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria.

Nwokike Brendan A
For: DD (Information)