By Victoria Ojeme
The United States Government through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has donated 1.75 million bed nets to residents of Ebonyi state as part of a national campaign to fight the scourge of malaria.
The Deputy Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Katie Donohoe in a statement said the nets will benefit all 3.1 million residents of Ebonyi and also provide at a minimum of one net for every two people within each household.
Sleeping under the nets put a vital barrier between people and malarial mosquitoes, most importantly from dusk to dawn, and is one of the best ways to prevent malaria.
“I encourage the people of Ebonyi to do your part and set an example for your children by sleeping under a net every night,” Donohoe said at a ceremony marking the start of the campaign.
“If we all work together to protect ourselves by sleeping under a bed net every night, we can control malaria for the good health of everyone.”
The PMI program is jointly implemented by USAID and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The life-saving nets will go to every local government area in the state.
In addition to the nets, valued at $4.9 million, PMI also provided an additional $1.1 million for logistics, including transportation and community mobilization – for a total contribution of $6 million, carried out in partnership with the Ebonyi government, which led the planning, coordination, and distribution effort.
The bed net distribution is a critical component of the ongoing effort to end malaria in Nigeria, which killed an estimated 82,000 people in 2017 and is the leading killer of children in the country.
Malaria is especially prevalent during the rainy season, when the mosquito population increases.
“All these efforts are geared towards the reduction of the burden of malaria in the state,” said Dr. Ugbala Kenneth Igwe, Secretary to the Ebonyi government, as he declared the bed net campaign open.
“With the distribution of these long-lasting nets, I assure you that the burden of malaria will continue to decline until we get to next to zero malaria case reporting in the state.”
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Since 2011, PMI has procured 57 million insecticide-treated nets, valued at $126 million as part of a $564 million overall contribution to malaria control in Nigeria.
PMI also supports advocacy and mobilization to encourage members of the community to sleep under the bed nets every night, and trains health workers to test for malaria before treatment.