By Millicent Ifeanyichukwu
Lagos, April 27, 2021 Dr Eddy Agbo, Managing Director/Chief Executuve Officer, FYODOR Biotechnologies, has called for a broad based private/public sector intervention, in the control of malaria in Nigeria.
FYODOR is a biotechnology company committed to delivering simple solutions to increase the diagnostic abilities of patients at home and at the point of care.
Agbo made the call on Tuesday at a colloquium to mark this year’s World Malaria Day, held at the Centre for Malaria Research, Diagnosis, Training and Policy, University of Lagos.
The World Malaria Day is an annual event that is celebrated every April 25, to highlight the global efforts to control malaria, as well as celebrate the gains that have been made.
The theme of the event is: Investing and Embracing New Technologies in Reaching Zero Malaria Target.
According to Agbo, what happened with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) intervention in Nigeria should serve as a perfect roadmap of how Nigeria can get to zero malaria.
“It is important for us to acknowledge that we have crisis in our hands. We have dealt with one already, so, we need to apply that same level of urgency.
“We have made progress, but have not made all we need to make. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us as Nigerians, what we are able to do.
“The level of urgency is for us to build private, public sector individual and NGO network, just like we did at the time of COVID-19, where companies were building isolation centres for massive testing and treatment, to prevent infection and reinfection,” he said.
Agbo noted that a WHO report on malaria stated that 90,000 Nigerians died of malaria in 2020.
He feared that 2021 could be worse, if government did not deploy the kind of intervention it did to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Federal Government made massive investment, and such should also be the case in malaria; right now, the budget for malaria control is near zero, we are just dependent on donors,” he said.
Agbo, who was the guest speaker at the event, mentioned some of the technologies to be deployed for the control of malaria to include Urine Malaria Test (UMT) and Rapid Blood Test.
In her goodwill message, Dr Perpetual Uhomoibhi, National Coordinator Malaria Elimination Programme, said Nigeria contributed hugely to the global burden of malaria and the disease continued to constitute a major public health challenge.
“Malaria is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years of age and pregnant women in Nigeria.
“However, Nigeria has made some giant strides by recording the largest reduction in malaria deaths from almost 153,000 deaths in 2010 to about 95,000 deaths, in 2018, from the 2019 world malaria report.
“In view of this, the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) in collaboration with its partners have developed a five-year strategic plan (2021- 2025), with laid down malaria control interventions and strategies to address this scourge,” she stated.
According to her, the goal of the new malaria strategic plan is to achieve a parasite prevalence of less than 10 per cent.
She said that it was targeted at reducing mortality attributable to malaria to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births.
According to her, the NMEP has developed Nigeria Malaria Operations Research Agenda (NMORA) with a compendium of malaria operations research questions.
She noted that this would be done across all intervention areas, as well as malaria and COVID-19 operations research questions, in collaboration with its partners.
In his brief remark, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the institution already had a trajectory for malaria research.
He said that the university was firmly committed in expanding such research in solving national challenges.
According to him, this will be achieved through the development of adequate curricula for malaria, research development and innovation.
”The university will be able to contribute her quota in the march toward achieving zero malaria target,” Ogundipe stated.
Also, Prof. Wellington Oyibo, Convener of the programme, said that the prevalence of the scourge was declining in the country.
He noted that it went from 42 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2015, and down to 23 per cent in 2018.
According to Oyibo, the disease can further be reduced if everyone is involved.
Malaria: Experts advocate broad based stakeholders’ interventions to tackle prevalence
By Millicent Ifeanyichukwu