By Chioma Obinna
The Federal Government and stakeholders in the fight against malaria have disclosed that malaria was costing the country over $2.4 million annually even as they disclosed that 97 percent of Nigerians were at risk of the disease.
Speaking at the launch of the Private Sector Engagement Strategy against Malaria, PSESM, in Lagos, thee stakeholders called on organised private sector to join the movement towards ensuring that Nigeria attained its target of zero malaria by 2020.
According to them, no fewer than $5 is spent out-of-pocket per patient and malaria epidemics can potentially reduce GDP by 1 to 5 percent and could stunt the engine of economic development as well as inhibit the growth in the education and health sectors.
Launching the PSESM document, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole noted that government could not stamp out malaria in Nigeria alone. He explained that collaboration with the Organised Private Sector, OPS, became imperative as over 30 million insecticide treated nets wre used in Nigeria yearly.
According to him, over 80 per cent of the anti-malaria medicine in the country are imported, hence the need to look inward and get the medications manufactured locally.
The minister who noted that malaria remains a big threat to public health said: “We have engaged in series of advocacy which have yielded results, but advocacy is not enough, many people would have been beaten before coming under the insecticide treated net. We need research and we realize we can’t do it alone, that is why we are engaging the private sector. We need their discipline and efficiency and in the local production of the medicine because that can generate employment in the country.”
Adewole who recalled that although substantial progress has been made in the control of Malaria in Nigeria over a decade through significant investment from government and development partners added that “over 100 million long-lasting Insecticide treated Net were distributed within the last seven years to protect over 28 million out of the 33 million households in Nigeria.”
Speaking, the Chairman of the Dangote Foundation, Mr. Aliko Dangote also lamented the scourge of malaria adding that it has direct costs to business and the economy. “It indirectly damages the economy through the deterioration of human capital, the loss in saving, investments and tax revenues. This is clearly too high of a cost to society and to the economy.”
To lead by example for the private sector active participation in achieving the task of eradicating malaria from Nigeria, Dangote who is the National Malaria Ambassador said he was committed to using his conglomerate, the Dangote Group of companies, as an example of what companies in Nigeria should be doing.
He then disclosed that henceforth, there would be malaria education for his staff at all the company’s business locations, distribution of prevention tools and supplies to the workers in the factories and in the fields.
Dangote disclosed that he co-founded the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), which is focused on mobilizing the private sector, across one coordinated platform, to leverage private sector capabilities, advocacy, innovation and resources to complement government efforts in advancing health outcomes.
He further called on more private sector leaders and companies to join the ‘malaria to zero’ campaign to pool resources to have impact at scale that is greater than underlying corporate initiatives against malaria. The Strategy document titled “Engaging the Private Sector to Eliminate Malaria in Nigeria highlighted the problems of malaria with statistics and how the private sector can collaborate in eradicating malaria has its mission as to provide equitable, comprehensive, cost effective, efficient and quality malaria control services ensuring transparency, accountability, client satisfaction, community ownership and partnership.