FG unveils initiatives to strengthen malaria elimination efforts in Nigeria

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By Abujah Racheal

The Federal Government has unveiled a comprehensive range of initiatives designed to expedite the eradication of malaria in Nigeria.

Prof. Muhammad Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, made the announcement on Friday in Abuja at a High-level Dialogue on Accelerating Malaria Elimination in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting, tagged ‘Rethinking Malaria Elimination,’ was organised by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) to mobilise stakeholders for expediting malaria elimination in Nigeria.

Pate said that the initiatives underscored the Federal Government’s steadfast commitment to achieving malaria elimination in Nigeria.

He said that by implementing a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach, Nigeria aimed at significantly reducing the burden of malaria and enhance the health outcomes of its citizens.

The minister added that the initiatives encompassed series of strategic measures aimed at addressing the root causes of malaria transmission and bolstering the country’s healthcare system.

Pate listed key highlights of the unveiled initiative.

“Enhanced Vector Control Strategies: The government plans to strengthen existing vector control measures, such as insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying (IRS), and larval source management (LSM).

“This would reduce the transmission of malaria-causing mosquitoes, expanded access to Chemoprevention.

“Efforts will be intensified to broaden access to chemopreventive measures such as Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC), Intermittent Preventive Treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), and Mass Drug Administration (MDA) among vulnerable populations across Nigeria.

“Deployment of Innovative Tools and Technologies: The Federal Government aims to leverage innovative tools and technologies to enhance malaria diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance.

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“This includes the adoption of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), and mobile health (mHealth) solutions for real-time data collection and reporting.

“Strengthened Health Systems: Investments will be made to reinforce Nigeria’s health systems, including training healthcare workers, enhancing laboratory capacity, and improving access to essential malaria interventions.

“The government will prioritise community engagement and mobilization efforts to raise awareness about malaria prevention and control measures, promote behavior change, and foster community-led initiatives to combat the disease.’’

Pate spoke on the collective effort and collaboration between Nigeria and its international development partners to accelerate the elimination of malaria.

“This milestone signifies a national consensus to deploy effective and safe tools for malaria control, aligning with the president’s agenda to enhance health outcomes for all populations in the country,” he said.

According to him, the outcome of the discussion will expedite the deployment of tools to alleviate the burden of malaria, including enhancing access to testing, treatment, and affordable medicines.

He underscored the significance of community involvement and leadership in combatting malaria and the pivotal role of Nigerian leaders across various sectors, including traditional, religious, political and private sectors.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for Africa at the World Health Organisation (WHO), underlined the vital role of collaboration and support from international partners for malaria-free Nigeria.

Moeti said that reliable data was critical in the fight against malaria as it played a pivotal role in informed decision-making and effective intervention strategies.

She said that beating malaria was achievable with strong leadership and commitment.

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Moeti, however, said that WHI was committed to supporting countries in bolstering measures to end malaria.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Tunji Alausa, said that eliminating malaria required a multi-faceted approach, involving collaboration across various government sectors.

“We are involving the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, and also the Ministry of Education in our agenda to move ahead to eliminating malaria.’’

Alausa highlighted the significance of utilising data and conducting research as crucial steps in the process.

“We have abundant evidence out there that’s already available to us to use on our strategies on how we can begin to use all the tools available to us, a combination of tools, on our malaria elimination strategies,” he said.

Dr Michael Adekunle, Chief Executive Officer, Roll Back Malaria, said there was need to strengthen partnerships to fast-track the elimination of malaria in the country.

Adekunle highlighted the need for a step-by-step multi-sectoral approach to translate discussions into tangible action.

He stressed the importance of government integration, particularly around climate considerations and advocating for improved planning and pandemic preparedness.

“Taking a multi-sectoral approach is crucial; we need to develop a toolkit of advice and practical steps to achieve this goal.

“It is essential to broaden our perspective beyond just health considerations,” he said.

He also emphasised the importance of redefining community engagement as it should be an ongoing dialogue rather than a one-time effort.

Adekunle stressed the need for integrating perspectives and finding simple, quick interventions that partners could readily implement to enhance community involvement and ownership in malaria elimination efforts.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Josephine Obute and Chijioke Okoronkwo

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