BY CHIOMA OBINNA
AS part of efforts to step up malaria control efforts in the country, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, Family Health International 360 and other partners recently brought together stakeholders in the health sector to unveil the Malaria Action Programme for States, MAPS, currently running in Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Cross River, Oyo, Zamfara and Benue. e seventh state is to be enlisted into the programme in the early part of 2012.
At the unveiling by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terrence McCauley, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali-Pate, confirmed that malaria is still a global emergency that affects mostly women and children.
According to Pate, Malaria costs Africa’s economy $12 billion per year. He said: “The impact of malaria is enormous as Nigeria loses about N132 billion to prevention, diagnosis and treatment. This is apart from the loss of man hours by the nation’s labour force”.
Country Director, fhi 360, Otto Nzapfurundi Chabikuli said despite known and affordable diagnostic, prevention and treatment technology, malaria remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria, directly contributing to poverty, low productivity and reduced school attendance.
He said: “It is responsible for nearly 300, 000 deaths per year, as well as 11 per cent of maternal mortality cases reported each year. No amount of commitment alone will reverse these statistics. Action is required”.
Chabikuli explained that the MAPS Project in Nigeria remains the single largest malaria prevention programme to be managed by fhi360 and also one of the most comprehensive in its approach.
Launching the programme, United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terrence McCauley, said MAPS is designed to support the National Malaria Control Strategic Plan through initiatives aimed at increasing the quality, access and uptake of specific malaria control interventions. The diplomat said “the incidence has continued to exert enormous strain on the finances of African countries even as one African child dies of malaria every three seconds.”
In his presentation, Coordinator of the Malaria Action Programme for States, Dr. Abba Zakari Umar revealed that the programme is aimed at supporting the control of malaria in Nigeria, especially state-specific malaria plans through improved capacity for malaria programme management at the state and local government levels.
Umar listed MAPS five areas of support to include increased access to malaria prevention interventions; improved malaria diagnosis and treatment services; increased awareness, knowledge of malaria prevention and treatment services; improved capacity for malaria program management at the state and LGA level; and, a strengthened Management Information System for Malaria at facility, local government, state and national levels.
He said in Benue state alone, MAPS had distributed over 1.7million LLINs; 1.4 million in Nasarawa, 842, 324 in Zamfara as well as providing support to malaria case management and malaria integrated supportive supervision in three states.
Zamfara State Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Kabiru Mohammed Janyau lamented the pain of malaria which has ravaged and impoverished families.