Nigeria will save N2tr from malaria elimination, says Buhari
• Appoints Dangote head of End Malaria Council
President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, yesterday, inaugurated the Nigeria End Malaria Council (NEMC), projecting that successful implementation of the council’s agenda and savings from the estimated economic burden of the disease would save the country about N687 billion in 2022 and N2 trillion by 2030.
The President told the 16-member council headed by the founder and president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, that beyond improving the quality of life, health and well-being of Nigerians, the strategy to tackle malaria has both public health and socio-economic benefits for Nigeria.
“Our inauguration today will, therefore, ensure that malaria elimination remains a priority on our agenda, with strong political commitment from leaders at all levels.
“Additionally, the End Malaria Council will provide a platform to advocate for more funding to protect and sustain progress made so far by our country, and put us on a pathway to ending malaria for good,” the President said.
Expressing concern that the age-long disease has remained a major public health challenge in Nigeria, the President cited the World Health Organisation (WHO) report of 2021, showing Nigeria alone accounts for 27 per cent of all cases of malaria and 32 per cent of deaths globally.
“Malaria infection can cause severe disease and complication in pregnant women and lead to high rates of miscarriage. It is also responsible for a considerable proportion of deaths in infants and young children, with children under five years being the most vulnerable group. These are reasons we must not relent in fighting malaria,” he said.
On his choice of Dangote as chair of the council, President Buhari explained that it was in recognition of the track record and passion of Africa’s richest man in supporting initiatives on various health issues, such as polio and primary health care.
He expressed confidence that Dangote would bring his achievements to bear in helping the country achieve its goal of malaria elimination, noting that a group of eminent personalities, who have also made their mark across all walks of life, have been selected to work in the council.
In separate remarks, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, and Minister of State for Health, Joseph Ekumankama Nkama, said since 2010, Nigeria has been recording a continuous decline in malaria from 42 per cent in 2010, 27 per cent in 2015 to 23 per cent in 2018.
Quoting figures from the 2010 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey and the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, they attributed the decline to thorough implementation of the National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP).
Both ministers, however, admitted that the funding gap has impacted the implementation of malaria programmes in Nigeria, adding that the country needs N1.89 trillion to reduce malaria prevalence and mortality by 2025.
The council members are Shehu Ibrahim, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Vice President on Political and Economic Affairs, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Abubakar Dahiru, Chairman, House Committee on AIDS, TB and Malaria, Dr. Ehanire, Ekumankama, Mahmuda Mamman, Permanent Secretary, Federal Minister of Health.
Others include Tony Elumelu, Chairman, Board of Directors, UBA, Folurunsho Alakija, CEO, Rose of Sharon Group, Herbert Wigwe, CEO, Access Bank, Femi Otedola, CEO Forte Oil, Hajiya Lami Lau, President, National Council of Women Societies, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Alhaja Rafiyat Sanni, National Amira, Federation of Muslim Women Nigeria (FOWAN) and Dr Perpetua Uhomoibhi, NEMC Secretariat/National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP).