The Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, has called for re-evaluation and implementation of the malaria policy in order to eliminate malaria in the country.
Speaking during a press briefing to commemorate the World Malaria Day celebration yesterday in Abuja, he said the country’s goal was to eliminate malaria but as long as it keeps its eyes on control, it cannot achieve that goal.
The minister disclosed that seven states, including Abia, Imo, Edo, Oyo, Osun, Delta and Kogi were yet to receive the insecticide treated nets for protection against malaria under the auspices of the Roll Back Malaria Programme.
According to him, though 63 million nets were earmarked for distribution, with two for each household, only 46.8 million have been distributed among 30 states.
Chukwu disclosed that though the programme had suffered a setback, the Federal Government was increasing the distribution of the insecticide treated nets from two per household to three per household.
Counting the gains of the Roll Back Malaria Programme, he said it had institutionalised testing with rapid diagnostic test kits and use of artemisinin combination therapy through the AMFM.
He said, “Over 12.5 million doses of ACTs were used in public sectors facilities while 39.4 million doses came through the AMFM programme”.
In his remarks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative to Nigeria, Mr David Okello noted that there were intrinsic and extrinsic factors militating against the control of malaria.
He said, “These factors cut across issues of inadequate funding, poor utilization of health care services, weak supply chain management, weak strategic information system and infrastructural challenges”.
According to him, malaria accounts for nearly 110 million clinically diagnosed cases per year in Nigeria and cause an estimated 30% of child mortality, 11% of maternal mortality and exert a huge socio economic burden on Nigerians.
“Studies suggest that about 480 billion naira ($3billion) is lost annually to malaria which means that at the minimum wage of N18,000, this will pay the salaries of more that 2.2 million Nigerians for a year,” he said.