Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof, Isaac Adewole, has expressed strong optimism that Nigeria is on path to eradicating the scourge of malaria in the country.
The Minister, who spoke at a World Malaria Day programme in Abuja, observed the concerns regarding resistance of the malaria parasites to the recommended anti-malaria medicines as well as of the mosquito vectors to available insecticides and assured that the situation was being monitored.
The Minister noted, however, that there was no cause for alarm.
The 25th of April every year is set aside to sensitize the populace, assess government efforts at stemming the scourge of malaria and mobilize efforts against the disease. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘End Malaria for Good’ with the slogan ‘Yes! It is Achievable’.
The Minister noted: “From time immemorial, Malaria has remained the greatest public health enemy in Nigeria. Every year many Nigerians die needlessly of the disease. Many households lose income because they are too ill from malaria to go to work. Several children are out of school on account of malaria and a good number fail to attain their optimal potential in life as a result.
“This is unconscionable given that malaria is preventable, treatable and curable. Renowned scientists and the World Health Organization have developed several tools to prevent and treat malaria; and also made substantial investments in the quest for a useful vaccine. On their part the Roll Back Malaria (RMB) partners have made tremendous resources available to assist Nigeria in her malaria control efforts.”
He admitted that there were still a lot of gaps in terms of the resources, but noted that the greatest obstacle is the failure of the people to play their part.
His words: “Many do not take up the available interventions recommended. For example, the use of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) has been confirmed to be very effective in preventing malaria, however most Nigerians are recalcitrant in its use….”
Adewole added: “Similarly, it is painful that we continue to miss the opportunity provided by improved antenatal attendance to protect pregnant women and their unborn babies from malaria through Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTP). According to the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), 61 per cent of pregnant women attend antenatal clinic whereas only 15 per cent receive two or more doses of IPTP in the course of their pregnancy.
“Again this is unconscionable because malaria takes the greatest toll on pregnant women and children under the age of five years. If we know this and do little or nothing about it posterity will not forgive us. It is therefore important that pregnant women know about IPTP and demand it from their health care providers at every antenatal visit to ensure favourable pregnancy outcomes.”
He noted: “Locally in Nigeria, malaria prevalence declined from up to 70 per cent in the period before 2000 to 42 per cent in 2010 (MIS). There is evidence that the prevalence has reduced even further in 2015. Details of this will be provided later when the result of the 2015 MIS will be disseminated formally.