By Jessica Onyegbula
Abuja, April 20, 2021(NAN)The Federal Government on Tuesday, reaffirmed that Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of malaria remained 98 per cent effective.
The National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination programme, Dr Perpetua Uhomoibhi, gave the reassurance at an engagement meeting with some Civil Society organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Abuja.
Uhomoibhi said the last time the efficacy test was carried out on ACTs was in 2019.
While advising Nigerians to ensure they buy only approved original ACTs from the authentic pharmacies, Uhomoibhi alerted that the country was flooded with counterfeit ACTs.
”A lot of fake ACTs are passing through the borders and coming into Nigeria, but Nigerians must be on high alert and go for only quality assured ACTs,” she said.
Uhomoibhi further explained that the meeting would amplify messages and create more awareness not only during this marking of the World Malaria Day (WMD) but also throughout the year.
She said the theme for this year’s WMD is “Zero Malaria, Draw the line Against Malaria” and the slogan is “Stand Up – Take Action”.
She explained that malaria remained one of the key health challenges that Nigeria had to deal with and transmission was all year round in most parts of the country.
According to her, nearly 61 million malaria cases have been estimated to occur annually (WMR 2020). Nigeria sits on top of all the countries worldwide when it comes to malaria morbidity and mortality.
”This is the time to get the Nigerian populace to take the necessary preventive measures to avoid getting sick with malaria such as sleeping inside nets every night, having screens on doors and windows.
”Pregnant women uptake of preventive medicines at regular intervals during pregnancy and ensuring children below five years in the Sahelian region are brought out to have preventive medicines during the Season Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) campaigns.
”There is a reduction in the malaria prevalence from 42 per cent in 2010 to 23 per cent 2018, along with a percentage reduction in mortality, according to the 2018 NDHS results.
”Key progress indicators such as net use, uptake of IPTs by pregnant women, seeking of care during fever and use of the appropriate anti-malarial are improving,” she said.
Uhomoibhi, however, noted that a lot still needed to improve, as we were not close to most of the targets we had set out to achieve by the close of last year.
”The current picture of malaria should concern us all. This is part of the reason why we are joining the global community to commemorate World Malaria Day – and why this meeting had been convened.
”Nigerians have come to a situation where they regard malaria as ordinary and sometimes as one of their diseases. For them, malaria is part of the household.
”And to take care of malaria, people devise all sorts of means ranging from herbal concoctions to taking various types of medicines from itinerant medicine hawkers.
”This narrative must change and the starting point is to get people acquainted on the dangers of malaria and how it can be prevented and treated,” she said.
Uhomoibhi further added that Nigerians needed to be encouraged and galvanised into actions that would reduce their risk of getting malaria.
According to her, particular concerns are the children less than five years and pregnant women because they are more at risk of getting malaria and suffering from its consequences than other groups.
“This is because of their levels of immunity.
”We at the NMEP in collaboration with our partners have come out with the necessary plans. We have the tools.
“But a key constraint is the required funding to implement and coordinate all the strategies developed for the elimination of malaria. This is also the challenge of the health system,” she said.
According to her, sustaining funding and efforts for strong and stable health systems are therefore critical aspects for eliminating malaria and reducing the burden of other infectious diseases.
”But we all know that government funding will never be enough.
“Experience shows that no matter how near or far countries are in achieving zero malaria, we are stronger working together from local communities upward.
”We are stronger pooling our resources and efforts.
“We also are stronger when civil societies, non-governmental organisations and faith-based groups, through community-led action, engage in the fight against malaria,” she added
FG reaffirms efficacy of Artemisinin for malaria
By Jessica Onyegbula