By Sola Ogundipe
TOWARDS attainment of the goal of 50 per cent reduction in the morbidity and mortality of malaria in the country as well as ensuring that every Nigerian household has at least two mosquito nets each by December 31, 2010, a total of 19,367,023 Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) have been distributed in 12 States of the Federation.
The nets were distributed between May 2009 up till the end of March 2010 in line with the rapid scale-up of LLIN ownership and use through LLINs stand-alone campaigns carried out by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) in collaboration with Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partners.
However, a total of 62, 974, 573 nets are required to meet the while over 43 million LLINs are expected to be distributed in 24 States this year.
National Coordinator, NMCP, Dr. Folake Ademola-Majekodunmi, who disclosed thsee figures however noted that there was a funding gap for a total of 9,281,500 LLINs in five States. The affected States are Oyo (2,643,613 LLINs); Delta (1,918,9860); Osun (1.602,999); Ondo (1,595,636) and Kogi (1,526,266).
Speaking last week in Abuja at the 7th Annual RBM Review Meeting, she said part of the plan for distribution of LLINs in 2010 included keeping up phase through routine health system, support to commercial sector, community directed distribution, etc to commence by middle of 2010.
Giving a rundown of the achievements of the net distribution process in Nigeria and the challengfe of managing the logistics of LLINs using available technology, Ademola-Majekodunmi, in her presentation entitled â€œNigeriaâ€™s National Malaria Control Programme:
The Journey So Far,â€ said the National Malaria Strategic Plan, 2009 â€“ 2013 was developed to respond to the goal and vision of the NMCP.
â€œIt may appear difficult; but weâ€™ll get there,â€ she said. â€œ Stakeholders are committed to reach everywhere in Nigeria and Nigerians, especially women queue to redeem their LLINs.
In her presentation, the NMCP Coordinator said the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Fund had been earmarked for 567,360 HHs targeted for Katsina, Gombe, Abia, Ogun, Niger, and Bayelsa States.
Noting that responses are based on the â€œ Three oneâ€ principle -of one coordinating body viz – (NMCP), one strategic national plan and one M&E system, she said the multi- sectoral approach involves key development partners, State and local governments, line ministries, private sector and Civil Society Organizations including Faith Based Organisations.
On the strengthened RBM partnership, she said with a vision of a malaria free Nigeria, the goal of the NMCP is to reduce by 50 per cent malaria related morbidity and mortality in Nigeria by 2010 and to minimise the socio-economic impact of the disease.
Also speaking at the event, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute said malaria has directly and indirectly caused spending of funds that would have been used to develop the nation. His words: â€œIt has brought a strain on the health system through overrated patronage, reduction in the productivity of the manpower, who are not even spared the blows of the disease and gross reduction in expendable funds which could have been channeled to improve the functionality of these health facilities.â€
He avowed that one key intervention adopted by Federal government to reduce the morbidity and mortality of malaria is improvement in case management through the provision of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDTs) for easy diagnosis in order to properly utilise the anti-malarial medicines.
â€œThis is closely tied to the scaling up of capacity building and sensitisation of community-based resource persons. The aim is to improve diagnosis on malaria at the community level and for referral practices.â€
Noting that the target is to distribute 63 million nets which is the largest so far in the country, Awute recognised that there is strengthened collaboration with line ministries to tackle Environmental Measures in Malaria Control.
He siad the Intermittent Preventive Treatment is also being implemented to ensure that pregnant women and the unborn children are adequately protected against malaria.
He said massive distribution of LLINs through campaigns to achieve universal coverage has commenced and is on going. â€œSo far, more than 19 million nets have been distributed in 13 States since May, 2009. The target is to distribute 63 million nets which is the largest so far in the country. There is strengthened collaboration with lined ministries to tackle Environmental Measures in Malaria Control.
The Intermittent Preventive Treatment is also being implemented to ensure that pregnant women and the unborn children are adequately protected against malaria.
Important targets of the Strategic Plan include ensuring that at least 80 per cent of households have two or more ITNs/LLINs by the end of 2010, while ensuring that the level of coverage is sustained until 2013.
Other targets are that by 2010 at least 80 per cent of children aged five years and below, including all and pregnant women, sleep under an ITN with coverage sustained until 2013; that by 2011 at least 80 per cent of fever/malaria patients receive appropriate and timely treatment and coverage level is sustained until 2013.
Also, by 2011 all pregnant women attending ante-natal care receive at least two doses of IPT while malaria related morbidity and mortality is reduced by 50 per cent and level of coverage is sustained to 2013.
Key Strategies for Malaria Control in Nigeria include advocacy, communication and social mobilisation. Others are procurement and supply chain management, monitoring and evaluation, partnersâ€™ coordination and inter-sectoral collaboration.