Creating a malaria-free world
Recently, the fight against the prevalence of malaria was renewed, when Etisalat Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Cross River State, Cross River State Primary Healthcare Board, and Mediatrix Development Foundation, a non-governmental organisation; to officially flag off the Etisalat Fight Malaria Initiative in the state.
The MoU enables the three parties to forge a close working relationship by coordinating efforts and resources to eradicate the prevalence of malaria in Cross River State.
The occasion attracted the right spectrum of audience ranging from Community Healthcare givers, the United Nations Population Fund Agency, the political class to the academia, with students of various secondary and tertiary institutions in attendance employing eye-catching, and impactful drama sketches and musical presentations to drive home the anti-malaria message.
This type of concerted campaign against the scourge of malaria is a global trend often deployed to achieve greater results. It is a potent combat model going by available data on the devastation of malaria in and around the world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Available statistics from the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report 2015, shows that there were about 214 million new cases of malaria worldwide with Africa accounting for 88 per cent of this figure. In the same year, the continent suffered 90 per cent of the 438,000 malaria deaths recorded worldwide.
Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo were the two countries that recorded up to 35 per cent of malaria deaths as at 2015. These countries, alongside 13 others with heavy concentration of malaria were deemed by the world body to have lagged behind in terms of making progress in reducing the prevalence of malaria.
Ikenna Ikeme, Director, Regulatory & Corporate Social Responsibility, Etisalat Nigeria, while decrying this development recently noted that it is in response to such calls for action against deadly diseases like malaria that has caused the to prioritize health as a key platform of its Corporate Social Responsibility Intervention programme.
“There is no nation that can achieve economic growth and general development without a healthy populace. Hence, the alignment of our business growth strategy with societal goals such as health. We have shown commitment to working with relevant authorities and groups in facilitating the creation of a healthier, wealthier and more developed state and nation. We will keep working with our partners to eradicate the endemic nature of malaria in our communities,” he said.
The fight malaria model would facilitate the setting up of 80 Malaria Clubs in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the state by 2018 with a primary mandate to reach approximately 25,000 people in the rural and urban areas with prevention messages on the control of malaria in their communities. It would also increase by 25 per cent the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills of junior and senior secondary school students in public schools in the state, as well as create a Malaria Hub of 2,650 peer educators and 3,150 Malaria Champions within two years.
A further look at the processes of this model reveals that the Malaria Clubs, upon establishment, will be integral parts of the schools’ extra-curricular activities and would involve setting up advocacy meetings and partnership engagement forum with key stakeholders.
In addition, the Malaria Clubs through the hub of peer educators from the schools will engage in awareness creation and social mobilization in schools and immediate communities to drive the campaign on malaria prevention. This will include; attitudinal change among mothers in the use of Insecticide-Treated Nets and promotion of prompt clinical investigation and treatment of malaria cases in the Communities.
The model also provides for capacity building through training of certain groups of service providers, including students, pupils, peer educators, Health workers and Teachers on Malaria prevention and ICT skills. Already, the telecommunications giant has demonstrated commitment with a donation of 40 computers and a cash sum of 1.5 Million Naira to drive information on malaria prevention among students in public school by 25 per cent in the next two years and for the sustenance of the Fight Malaria Clubs set up in various schools across the state.
The model is an innovative approach that calls for a departure from the old routine that has failed to deliver on the expectations of the World Health Organisation, which posted a damning verdict about efforts being channeled into the fight in its 2015 World Malaria Report.
The Wife of the Cross River State Governor and Founder of Mediatrix Development Foundation, Dr. (Mrs.) Linda Ayade also highlighted the need to embrace a new approach that can guarantee effective reduction of malaria in the Nigerian society.
“I believe this is the beginning of a rejuvenated vigorous fight to end malaria for good in Cross River State. We are delighted that our efforts to check the effects of malaria in communities is yielding results and has attracted Etisalat to partner with us to strengthen existing state structures in the health sector,” she said.
The WHO report was not altogether doom and gloom, as it highlighted that between 2010 and 2015, Malaria deaths declined globally by 60 per cent in all age groups and by 53 per cent in children under five years of age, equating to an estimated 4.3 million malaria deaths averted. The African region accounted for 66 per cent decline in malaria mortality during this period.
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