By Vivian Ihechu
The government of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti States have highlighted strategies towards the achieving the Zero malaria target among their residents.
The states also reiterated their political will to realising the strategies.
They made this known on Thursday at the 2021 World Malaria Day Colloquium organised with the theme “Reaching the Zero Malaria Target’’ by the St. Racheal’s Pharma, Lagos.
World Malaria Day is an international observance commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria.
Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria. In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children.
The Director of Disease Control, Lagos State, Dr Rotimi Agboolagorite, who spoke virtually, said that malaria was widespread in the state with negative consequences.
“Malaria is endemic in Lagos State and it poses a lot of challenge to the state and impedes human development.
“It is also known to be the cause and the consequence of under-development in the state and it remains one of the leading causes of morbidity.
“Also, the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos State coupled with the people’s behaviour and abundant coastal area, encouraged availability of stagnant water for the breeding of anopheles mosquitoes.
“These being responsible for the stable pattern and continuous transmission of the disease all around and across the state.’’
In terms of the strategies to achieve zero malaria, Agboolagorite said that the state had seven strategies and objectives.
“Under preventions, the preventive measures the state uses include providing long lasting insecticidal nets mainly focus on ordinary people, women, children who are under five years of age.
“These are accessed or freely distributed during antenatal clinic attendance in our public health facilities.
“We also have provision of preventive drugs for prevention of malaria during pregnancy, mainly in our public health facilities,’’ he said.
According to him, other strategies include indoor residual spraying in selected Local Governments, social mobilisations and community sensitisation activities in all the local governments and communities.
“We have procurement and supplying chain management where we issue up a very accurate delivery for the distribution of our commodities and drugs to our facility.
“Another objective area is monitoring and evaluation under which we have continuous data management of our programmes.
“ We also have operational research activities and the seventh strategic objective is programmes management, which focuses on training and retraining of our healthcare workers,’’ he said.
Agboolagorite emphasised the importance of testing appropriately and accurately before the commencement of treatment.
“This is very germane at this time as people infected with the sign of coronavirus also present symptoms similar to malaria,’’ he said.
The Commissioner for Health in Oyo State, Dr Bashir Bello, said that malaria is preventable, treatable and curable, as such focus is on the many causes to ensure its elimination.
The commissioner, who participated virtually, said that the state flagged off a programme on Mother and Child, as they belong to the vulnerable groups.
According to him, women and children are provided with the necessary health care needs, including antimalaria therapy free of charge in all health facilities, including the primary care delivery.
He said that health education was also a critical strategy to improve the knowledge of the people on how to prevent malaria.
“ We are able to first of all ensure that the environmental aspect is addressed.
“Through public health education and health awareness, we try to ensure that the environment is clean and all water logged places are cleared.
“ If we are able to take care of our environment, we will have effectively broken the mode of transmission,’’ he said.
Dr Festus Soyinka, the Director of Public Health, Ogun, said that the state was stepping up diverse interventions similar to those of Lagos State to control malaria.
He also stressed the role of the environment in eliminating malaria, as well as the need for appropriate testing and diagnosis before the commencement of treatment.
The Commissioner for Health and Human Services in Ekiti State, Dr Oyebanji Filani, was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Akinjide Akinleye, who joined virtually.
He affirmed that malaria elimination was priority in the ladder of the administration.
According to him, there is also a framework where pregnant women and children are focused on in the social investment programme of the administration.
He said that environment played critical role in tackling the challenges of malaria which had led to the state’s policies on environmental preparedness.
Filani said that there was also an institutional framework in the state which covered primary, secondary and tertiary levels with health education, public enlightenment and awareness creation on the dangers of malaria.
The Chairman of St. Racheal’s Pharma, Mr Akinjide Adeosun, said that the company would institute programmes to complement the efforts of the global, continental, national and sub national governments to Reaching the Zero Malaria Target.
According to him, they include inaugurating a St. Racheal’s Antimalarial Art Competition among secondary school students in Nigeria, embarking on Free Malaria Medical Mission and conducting a local bioequivalence study for St. Racheal’s Antimalarial.