Okowa calls for Environmental Action Plan to reduce malaria transmission

Delta Governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, has called for a National Action Plan on Environment to facilitate the reduction of malaria transmission in the country.

Okowa made the call when he received officials of Federal Ministry of Health Partners on Roll-Back Malaria led by Dr Eze Nelson, on advocacy visit, at Government House, Asaba.

He said that until certain actions were taken in the management of the environment, investments in the treatment of malaria would be “a scratch on the surface’’.

He thanked the global partners for the inclusion of Delta among 13 states for the programme, and assured that Delta would contribute its counterpart funds.

“There is no doubt that malaria has been a major public health problem in this country and to that extent, we are worried because it disturbs the family life.

“I must commend the Federal Ministry of Health and global partners for all the support over the years. Yes, it is good that we invest in Insecticides-treated mosquito nets and other preventive measures but we must concentrate on how to take care of the environment to reduce malaria transmission to barest minimum.

“Until we do that we will find ourselves spending money on daily basis without achieving much because the impact will be marginal.

“I must commend you for this advocacy because it will also help us to work towards reducing the level of transmission in the environment.

“The issue of stagnant water is creating problems for us but we are very glad that this advocacy campaign is very vital and the support of the states is truly needed in this regard.

“We will as a state try to stay focused and I will find out what is needed for the counterpart funding from the state.

“I am committed to doing what ought to be done as a state in order to truly get the programme started in the state,” he said.

The governor said that the state offered free medical attention to pregnant women and children under-five years, adding that those set of persons were very vulnerable and needed a lot of attention.

“We are able to fund the payment of their premium in our Contributory Health Commission and it has helped us a lot in the last four years and it is hoped that governments after us will continue with it,” he stated.

Earlier, Dr Eze had said that the team was in the state on an advocacy visit on malaria, disclosing that malaria had remained a public health challenge in Nigeria, with young children and pregnant women largely affected.

He said that the Global Fund co-financing condition required that Nigeria should contribute at least 15 per cent of the grant value over the grant period, adding that Delta was required to budget for and release the minimum of N920,234,914 for the control of malaria in the state over the three-year period (i.e. an average of N 306, 744,973.45 annually).

“Malaria remains a major public health challenge in Nigeria, constituting a huge epidemiologic burden and continues to cripple the economic development in the country.

“It is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Nigeria with young children and pregnant women disproportionately affected.

“It accounts for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 per cent of childhood deaths, 11 per cent of maternal death (4,500 die yearly) and 25 per cent of deaths in infants (children aged <1 year),’’ Eze disclosed.

He said that Nigeria contributed 27 per cent (58,860,000 – ONE out of every FOUR persons having malaria) to the malaria burden and 23 per cent (88,320) – about ONE out of every FOUR deaths) to malaria deaths globally (World Malaria Report 2020).

“In Nigeria, malaria kills 9-10 persons every hour. Children under-5 years of age remain the most vulnerable group affected by malaria accounting for 67 per cent (272,000) of all malaria deaths. It is a major cause of school absenteeism and low productivity.

“Due to concerted efforts by the Government and donor partners, including the Global Fund to fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria, millions of lives have been saved and national prevalence reduced from 42 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2015) and 23 per cent in 2018.

“A malaria indicator survey (MIS) is being planned this year which will further provide the current prevalence. At the state level (Delta), malaria prevalence has reduced from about 20 per cent in 2015 to 17 per cent in 2018.

“We need to collectively work harder to keep reducing the prevalence in the state, and on a national level to ensure achievement of a parasite prevalence of less than 10 per cent as well as reduce mortality attributable to malaria to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2025 as set out in the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2021–2025),” he stated.

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