Nigeria plans to eliminate malaria
The National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) has adopted a strategic plan to ensure total elimination of malaria in Nigeria by 2020.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that malaria is a tropical disease that kills millions of Nigerians every year.
A top official of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Perpetua Uhomoibhi, made the disclosure at a forum with health correspondents in Lagos on Friday.
She spoke on “Media Health Editors as Advocates to Malaria Elimination in Nigeria’’.
Uhomoibhi, who is the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of NMEP in the ministry, said the strategic plan was now focusing on reducing the malaria burden drastically.
“ Our national elimination programme strategic plan now is focusing on bringing the malaria burden to pre-elimination level by 2020 and reducing the malaria death to zero by the year 2020.
She said that NMEP would collaborate with the media to ensure that effective information and actions required to eliminate malaria got to Nigerians.
Uhomoibhi represented the National Coordinator of NMEP, Dr Audu Mohammed.
She said that it was necessary for the media to be equipped with adequate information on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria.
According to her, it is also important for the media to be aware of current policies, community mobilisation and partners’ involvement in malaria elimination.
“Globally, there has been a gradual decrease in both the morbidity and mortality from malaria.
“Similarly in Nigeria, we have also been able to achieve a lot to reduce the national malaria prevalence from 42 per cent in the survey we did in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2017.
“That is a significant decrease and our plan is to bring it to less than five per cent by the year 2020, which is the pre-elimination level.’’
Uhomoibhi said that there had also been some modifications within the malaria elimination programme.
“Within the NMEP and the ministry, there is a policy shift in that the recommended drug for the treatment of malaria is now the combination therapy.
“We no longer use the mono therapy, which is only one drug treatment for malaria, due to resistance.
“The National Council on Health has banned the use of mono-therapy for the treatment of malaria.
“So, we have shifted to Artemisini-based Combination Therapies; you must use artemisinin and another drug for the treatment of malaria that is the shift from what was obtained in the past.
“What the programme is doing in collaboration with the malaria partnership, the roll-back malaria partnership in Nigeria is that they are bringing out different interventions.
“These interventions are in terms of prevention, case management and other cross-cutting issues such as advocacy, monitoring and social mobilisation,’’ she said.
The Managing Director of the Society for Family Health, Mr Bright Ekweremadu, said: “we acknowledge the profound power of the media.
“We had always partnered as well as worked with and through the media to reach the teeming population of vulnerable Nigerians in far-flung places.
“Media editors as important gatekeepers are key to information dissemination everywhere in the world.
“It is our belief, however, that the media need to be equipped with the right and correct information, particularly in health-related areas to be able to provide such information.’’
He said: “malaria control interventions have evolved over the years and there had been a lot of laudable strides made in the campaign for its prevention, appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
“However, not all Nigerians are sufficiently aware of these developments and there still exists a huge information gap on appropriate knowledge about diagnosis, treatment and prevention of malaria.
“We require the media to take the lead in providing investigated and researched evidence of the efficacy of recommended malaria prevention strategies,’’ he stated.