By Sola Ogundipe
Benue state has received 3.6 million bed nets from the U.S. government, through the President’s Malaria Initiative, PMI, as part of a national campaign to provide enough nets for every Nigerian for protection from malaria.
The donation comes less than a week after the US Agency for International Development, USAID, notified an additional $48.5 million in malaria funding to support the Development Objective Agreement (DOAG) between the American and Nigerian governments, bringing the total amount under the seven-year agreement to $1.99 billion.
The PMI programme in Nigeria is jointly implemented by the USAID and tbe Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in coordination with the Government of Nigeria.
The life-saving nets will go to every local government area in the state as part of a critical component of the ongoing effort to end malaria in Nigeria, which results in more than 90,000 deaths per year.
In addition to the nets, PMI has provided funding for logistics, including transportation and community mobilisation carried out in partnership with the Benue State government, which led the planning, coordination, and distribution effort. The total value of the contribution is about $8.4 million (? 3.1billion).
Speaking at the ceremony, the Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom observed: “Malaria infection still poses a great threat to the social and economic well being of the population of Benue State. We must therefore do everything possible to safeguard our people, particularly the vulnerable group of women and children with the help of stakeholders [including] the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative.”
“This activity will benefit more than five million residents of Benue, providing, at a minimum, one net for every two people within each household. Sleeping under the nets puts a vital barrier between people and malarial mosquitoes, most importantly from dusk to dawn, and is one of the best ways to prevent malaria, ” Ortom stated.
Since 2011, PMI has procured more than 60 million insecticide-treated nets as part of a $635 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.