Nigeria is responding to the spate of infant deaths from malaria by increasing appropriate malaria treatment for this target group by implementing the Affordable Medicines for malaria (AMFm) and massive distribution of 63 million long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs).

Making this declaration on this year’s World Malaria Day, Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, stated that a key component of the nation’s National Malaria Control Strategic Plan for 2009-2013 is Scaling Up For Impact (SUFI) malaria case management with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies for malaria (ACTm).

He said with support from Global Fund for AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria and development partners, Nigeria will distribute over 15 million ACTm in the next two years to underserved areas and populations, meeting roughly 50 per cent of the national need in underserved areas. The AMFm intervention will make available, cheaply, effective malaria medicines.

About 97 per cent of the population is at risk of infection resulting in approximately 300,000 malaria deaths annually. A lot of the deaths occur among children under five years of age.

“This World Malaria Day – and every day – around 2,000 children will die from a mosquito bite. We have effective measures to combat this deadly disease — and we must use them to save lives.”

He said fighting malaria not only saves children’s lives, but also yields many other health and economic benefits. Reducing malaria improves the health of pregnant mothers and therefore the health of their babies. Controlling malaria can also reduce deaths due to malnutrition, as those already weakened are more likely to die if they contract the disease.

“We cannot leave some children exposed to malaria and other children safe. Whether it is insecticide-treated nets, proper diagnosis, or effective treatment, the challenge is to provide protection and care to every single child who is at risk.”

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