Dangote Foundation will tomorrow, Monday, November 14, launch a private sector policy document that targets to address once and for all, the scourge of malaria in the country. Malaria ravages the lives of a huge number of the country’s population. It is said that Nigeria currently accounts for 300,000 of the 100 million deaths arising from malaria-related complications worldwide. The initiative from the Dangote Foundation is aimed at a complete wipe out of the scourge of malaria in the country.
The Dangote Foundation said it was championing the total eradication of Malaria in Nigeria, because malaria-related deaths recorded annually in the country made Nigeria, the country with the highest number of malaria casualties in the world.
Chief executive officer of the Foundation, Zouera Yousoufu, disclosed in Lagos that the Foundation would launch the document in collaboration with the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health tomorrow, Monday, November 14.
According to Yousoufu, the document, titled: “Engaging the Private Sector to Eliminate Malaria in Nigeria,” was a result of months of planning, surveys and deliberations with key private sector leaders and important stakeholders. Yousoufu further explained that the Foundation worked closely with Anadach Group to come out with the policy document proposal that addresses the scourge of malaria and how to eliminate it from the nation once and for all.
According to her, Nigeria has 25 per cent of the world’s disease burden of malaria and reports more deaths due to the disease than any other country in the world. Malaria is also noted to be responsible for a significant number of deaths of women and children every year in the country.
“Malaria accounts for 60 per cent of out-patient hospital visits and 30 per cent of hospital admissions. An estimated US$1.1billion (N480billion) is lost annually in Nigeria due to malaria-related absenteeism and treatment costs,” she said.
According to the Nigerian National Malaria Strategic Plan 2014-2020, malaria is responsible for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 per cent of childhood deaths, 25 per cent of deaths in children under one year and 11 per cent of maternal deaths.
Explaining why Dangote Foundation is involved in the struggle to eliminate malaria from Nigeria, Yousoufu noted that malaria has remained a major public health problem in Nigeria. “It accounts for over 60 per cent outpatient visits and 30 percent hospital admissions in Nigeria. The disease has impacted negatively on the economy with about N132billion lost to the disease as cost of treatment and loss in man-hours.
She explains that “Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the parasite of genius plasmodium. The four identified species of this parasite causing human malaria are Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale and P.malariae. In Nigeria 98 per cent of all cases of malaria is due to Plasmodium falciparum. This is the species that is responsible for the severe form of the disease that leads to death. It is transmitted from bites of an infected female anopheles mosquitoes to man.
“Malaria is highly endemic in Nigeria. It poses a major challenge to the country as it impedes human development. It is both a cause and consequence of underdevelopment and remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the country. Malaria accounts for about 63 per cent of all visits to public health facilities (out-patient attendances).
“Thirty per cent of hospital admissions are also due to malaria. It is responsible for 29 per cent of childhood death, 25 per cent of infant mortality and 11 per cent of maternal mortality.
According to Yousoufu, “The economic loss to Nigeria due to malaria is estimated at N132 billion annually (RBM) due to loss of man hours resulting from sickness absence and cost of treatment. It is a major cause of absenteeism from work and school. It contributes to poverty and results in poor pregnancy outcome.
“In Lagos State alone, malaria is responsible for 70 per cent of outpatient attendance at the secondary healthcare facilities and over 80 per cent of all tracer diseases reported by primary healthcare facilities (HMIS).The most vulnerable groups are under-fives, pregnant women, visitors from non-endemic areas, those with sickle cell anaemia, HIV/AIDS.
According to the Dangote Foundation CEO, “The burden of the disease has been a major source of concern to government and development partners. The expression of this challenge has been translated through many instruments such as Abuja Declaration in year 2000, Millennium Development Goals to reduce disease burden by 2015 and Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (ATM) in 2006.
“The female anopheles mosquitoes are the vectors responsible for transmitting the plasmodium parasites. The commonest species is anopheles gambiense and anopheles funestus. These species of mosquito breeds in clear stagnant water, especially in unused discarded tyres, broken pots and other areas where water can collect.
“In a metropolitan area like Lagos State, where people’s behaviour coupled with environmental factors encourage the breeding of mosquitoes and thus increase human vector contact which promote the continuous transmission of infection, it is important to position malaria control as a top priority for government intervention
“The recommendations for malaria prevention include estimates of malaria risk to travelers. These estimates are based on numbers of malaria cases reported in travelers and the estimated volume of travel to countries.”
Despite so many gains in malaria prevention and treatment in Nigeria, the widespread prevalence of counterfeit, substandard medicines is said to be contributing to the alarmingly high number of malaria deaths and costs of health care in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the US Government, through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced the launch of “Make a Difference” hotline and reward programme that will offer up to $10,000 (approximately two million naira) for information concerning the illegal distribution of stolen and falsified anti-malaria medication in Nigeria.
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