As part of activities commemorating the World Malaria Day, Stanbic IBTC Bank, a member of the Standard Bank Group, is collaborating with Friends of the Global Fund Africa to galvanize current and ex-Nigerian footballers, non-governmental organizations, the media, the public and private sectors to rally around efforts in kicking malaria out of Nigeria.
The effort comes under the umbrella of the United Against Malaria (UAM) Campaign, a partnership of influential leaders, organizations, businesses and sporting stars who have joined forces ahead of the historic hosting of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010 to work in ending the scourge of malaria in the African continent.
It is a FIFA endorsed campaign that is using the first FIFA World Cup in Africa to raise awareness and drive action to tackle malaria.
The main objectives of this yearâ€™s campaign include advocacy on increasing the use of preventive tools and malaria treatment in Nigeria, reaching out to communities through net distribution using Nigerian footballers and mobilizing communities to take charge in protecting themselves against malaria.
Malaria, which is a preventable and treatable disease, is the largest public health burden in Nigeria.
According to the World Health Organization, about 133 million Nigerians and inhabitants are estimated to be at risk of malaria.
Nigeria accounts for 50% of malaria burden worldwide with pregnant women and children under the age of 5 years being the most vulnerable groups.
According to Mrs. Sola David-Borha, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC, a concerted effort by all stakeholders in raising awareness about the mortal danger of malaria and being well informed on how to prevent the disease, should be further intensified if the goal of containment and actualization of the MDGs will be realized by 2015.
“For a disease that kills a child every thirty seconds, malaria must be classified as an enemy of Africa. Since it is treatable and completely preventable, enlightenment and education campaigns are required to help stem its spread,â€ stated David-Borha.
Dr. Akudo Ikemba CEO/Founder, Friends of the Global Fund Africa, said as part of UAMâ€™s malaria eradication initiatives, the NGO has enlisted the help of several prominent soccer players from around the globe as spokespersons, including many Nigerian players plying their trade in the popular English Premier League.
She added that in Africa, the team is engaging governments to strengthen political commitment to prioritize malaria control, and to increase consistent, appropriate utilization of prevention tools like bed nets and malaria treatment.
â€œThe campaign kicked off in Africa not too long ago. UAM was on ground for the first time on the continent to raise awareness about the effort with the crowd during the 2010 World Cup qualification match between Ghana and Mali in Bamako, Maliâ€, stated Anyanwu.
The world malaria day celebration kicked off on April 22nd with distribution of treated bed nets to the staff of the Lagos State Government Senior College, Victoria Island, and the Lagos State Motherless Babies Home, Lekki, which has about 50% of its population made up of children under five years of age.
A round table discussion on malaria and the journey so far in Nigeria held at the Stanbic IBTC office in Victoria Island, Lagos.