By Jessica Onyegbula
The federal government reaffirmed on Tuesday that artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for the treatment of malaria remains 98% effective.
The National Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Program, Dr Perpetua Uhomoibhi, gave the assurance during an engagement meeting with selected civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Abuja.
Uhomoibhi said the last time the efficacy test was performed on ACTs was in 2019.
While advising Nigerians to make sure they only buy original ACTs approved from genuine pharmacies, Uhomoibhi warned that the country was inundated with counterfeit ACTs.
“A lot of fake ACTs cross borders and arrive in Nigeria, but Nigerians need to be on high alert and only opt for quality-guaranteed ACTs,” she said.
Uhomoibhi further explained that the meeting would amplify messages and create more awareness not only during this celebration of World Malaria Day (WMD) but also throughout the year.
She said the theme for this year’s ADM is “Zero Malaria, drawing the line against malaria” and the slogan is “Stand Up – Take Action”.
She explained that malaria remained one of the main health problems facing Nigeria and that transmission was year round in most parts of the country.
According to her, nearly 61 million cases of malaria occur each year (WMR 2020). Nigeria is at the top of any country in the world when it comes to malaria-related morbidity and mortality.
“Now is the time to get the people of Nigeria to take the necessary preventive measures to avoid contracting malaria, such as sleeping in mosquito nets every night, having mosquito nets on doors and windows.
“Pregnant women use preventive drugs at regular intervals during pregnancy and ensure that children under five in the Sahel region receive preventive drugs during seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) campaigns.
“There is a reduction in the prevalence of malaria from 42 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2018, as well as a percentage reduction in mortality, according to NDHS 2018 results.
“The main progress indicators such as the use of mosquito nets, the use of IPT by pregnant women, seeking care during fever and the use of the appropriate antimalarial are improving,” she said. declared.
Uhomoibhi, however, noted that there was still a lot of room for improvement as we weren’t close to most of the goals we set out to achieve at the end of last year.
“The current malaria situation must concern us all. This is part of the reason we join the global community in commemorating World Malaria Day – and why this meeting was called.
“Nigerians have come to a situation where they regard malaria as ordinary and sometimes as one of their illnesses. For them, malaria is part of the household.
“And to fight malaria, people are devising all kinds of ways, from herbal preparations to taking various types of drugs from street vendors.
“This discourse has to change and the starting point is to familiarize people with the dangers of malaria and how it can be prevented and treated,” she said.
Uhomoibhi added that Nigerians should be encouraged and galvanized into actions that will reduce their risk of contracting malaria.
Children under five and pregnant women are particularly concerned, she said, as they are more at risk of contracting malaria and suffering from its consequences than other groups.
“It’s because of their immunity levels.
“At NMEP, together with our partners, we have developed the necessary plans. We have the tools.
“But a key constraint is the funding needed to implement and coordinate all the strategies developed for malaria elimination. It is also the challenge of the health system, ”she declared.
Sustaining funding and efforts for strong and stable health systems are therefore essential aspects of eliminating malaria and reducing the burden of other infectious diseases, she said.
“But we all know government funding will never be enough.
“Experience shows that no matter how close or far countries are to achieve zero malaria, we are stronger working together from the local communities upwards.
“We are pooling our resources and efforts more.
“We are also stronger when civil societies, non-governmental organizations and faith groups, through community-led action, engage in the fight against malaria,” she added. (NOPE)
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