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World Malaria Day: FG harps on diagnosis before treatment

  • Bans chloroquine, artemisin monotherapy for treating disease

  • Unveils Made-in-Nigeria ITN

Prof. Isaac Adewole
Minister of Health

ABUJA – The Federal Government has directed healthcare practitioners across the country to ensure that individuals  with symptoms of malaria are diagnosed before prescribing drugs or treating them.

The government has also cautioned against self-medication by supposed sufferers from malaria.

This is even as the Federal Government introduced  a “Made in Nigeria” insecticide treated mosquito net (ITN) as part of efforts to eliminate malaria scourge in the country while also anouncing the offcial ban of the use of chloroquine and all forms of artemisin monotherapy for treating the disease in the country while also

The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, made the pronouncements in Abuja at a briefing to commemorate this year World Malaria Day on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization  (WHO) had banned the use of chloroquine and all forms of artemisin monotherapy globally three years ago, but Nigeria had to wait for the approval of the National Council on Health to effect the ban.

Though many health facilities and practitioners no longer use the drugs, they are still being sold at some drug retail outlets and used by mostly people who engage in self-medication.

At his briefing, the minister decried huge economic losses malaria brings on the nation. He appealed to people in the country to live in safe, clean environment, and directed relevant government organizations working on curtailing importation of fake and substandard drugs into the country to live up to their responsibilities.

Adewole specifically directed the Nigerian Customs Services and the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, to ensure they seize illicit, fake and substandard medications.

The theme for this year commemoration is “End Malaria for Good.” According to the minister, the theme underscores the call to action for concrete steps to be taken individually and collectively towards ending malaria scourge in order to safeguard the nation’s physical, economic and social existence.

“Similarly, the slogan: ‘What is your role?” reiterates that every conscious effort taken, however little, moves us closer to a malaria free nation.

“The theme provides us all with an opportunity to celebrate the success attained in malaria control over the past years. In addition, it provides a clarion call for all to commit themselves to advocate and solicit for support for more resources, commodities and requisite policies that will enable us defeat Malaria.

“The key message this year is to remind us all that reducing and eliminating malaria creates healthier, more equitable and prosperous societies, and promotes a broadly inclusive and multi-sectoral response; we can collectively Free Nigeria of the burden of Malaria.

“Malaria though preventable, still remains a major public health problem in Africa and Nigeria in particular, and constitutes a major barrier to social and economic development. Over 90 percent of the population in Nigeria is at risk while children and pregnant women are seen to be more vulnerable to this disease. This calls for a sober reflection and underscores the need to use the opportunity of yet another World Malaria Day to examine where we need to redouble our efforts at all levels.

“Globally, 3.4 billion people are at risk of the disease malaria with 1.2 billion people at higher risk. In 2012, malaria was responsible for the death of approximately 482,000 under-five children even though an estimated 136 million Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) were distributed to endemic countries the same year. Thus, malaria is still a major public health concern particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Nigeria.

“In Nigeria, malaria is responsible for around 60 percent of the out-patient visits to health facilities, 30 percent of childhood death, 25 percent of death in children under one year and 11 percent of maternal deaths. Similarly, about 70 percent of pregnant women suffer from malaria, which contributes to maternal anemia, low birth weight, stillbirths, abortions and other pregnancy-related complications.

“The financial loss due to malaria is estimated to be about 300 billion Naira ($797 million) annually in form of treatment costs, prevention costs and loss of man-hours. “Malaria is one of the principal reasons for poor school attendance in many settings because it accounts for 13 to 15 percent of medical reasons for absenteeism from school,” the minister said.

He explained that the thrust of malaria control in the country is prevention through multiple strategies such as vector control and prevention of malaria in pregnancy.

He furthered that in line with the global standard, the nation had instituted the policy of testing before treatment with the deployment of the Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits nationwide.

Adewole said training and capacities of heath care providers had been built in both private and public sectors on the use of RDT, and that diagnostic services for malaria using the test kit could be accessed cheaply at all levels of the health care delivery, most especially the community level.

The minister argued that despite the burden of the disease in the nation, Federal Government had put in significant measures to curb the disease. He said Federal Government had distributed through the health system pipelines over 30 million doses of ACTs, and that over 28 million units of RDTs have been procured for staggered delivery to states.

Besides, he said in order to address the challenge of vector resistance to insecticides, the WHO had recommended that every country should put in place an effective mechanism for vector surveillance and insecticide resistance management.

“To respond to the WHO recommendation, Nigeria has established six sentinel sites in the geopolitical zones of the country with support from PMI, while additional funds have been secured from the Global Fund under the New Funding Mechanism for the establishment of six additional sites in the country. Considering the huge size of the country, there is need to urgently establish additional sentinel sites in order to meet the demand of this strategy.

Prof. Adewole unveiling the made in Nigeria insecticide treated nets.

Unveiling the “Made in Nigeria” insecticide treated mosquito nets, Adewole said he was against using Nigerian money to buy nets from another country and challenged indigenous companies to produce the nets in the country.

“I am very happy to declare to this gathering that the challenge was taken up and it has yielded result.

“I was told that there are three companies; one each in Aba, Lagos and Abuja taking up the challenge,’’ he said.

The minister said the nets were made in Aba, one of the manufacturing hubs of the country, adding: “I can tell you if it is made in Aba, it must be good.’’

Adewole said that there was a good market for the product in the country, stressing that Nigeria needs at least 30 million nets annually.

He said Nigeria through the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) has achieved remarkable targets in the implementation of its various interventions put in place to curb the menace of malaria disease.

He said that it was noteworthy that the thrust of malaria control in Nigeria was prevention through multiple strategies such as vector control and prevention of malaria in pregnancy.

According to Adewole, Nigeria has instituted the policy of testing before treatment with the deployment of the Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits nationwide.

“Training and capacities of healthcare providers have been built in both private and public sectors on the use of RDT.

“Presently diagnostic services for malaria using the test kit can be accessed cheaply at all levels of the healthcare delivery, most especially the community level,’’ he said.

Adewole said the ministry and partners had distributed over 58.8 million LLINs during the replacement campaign that was conducted in 22 states between December 2013 and September 2016.

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