Health Minister Pate reveals plans to combat Malaria

THE Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, said the ministry, alongside global health leaders, has identified key action plans geared towards combating malaria in Nigeria.

Pate, on Friday night, May 3, noted that the Ministry arrived at the key decisions at the high-level global dialogue on accelerating malaria elimination with major health stakeholders in Abuja on Friday, May 3.

The dialogue, which involved panel discussions on various topics bordering on accelerating malaria treatment and elimination, captured the steps the country has taken over the years to combat the spread of malaria.


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The panelists include Global Coordinator, PMI Lisa O’Hare; Global Fund Mark Edington; Bruno Moonen, BMGF,  Scott Gordon of Gavi, Samrita Sidhu, FCDO & Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Africa.

Caused by parasites transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria is a preventable and curable major public health issue affecting millions of Nigerians.

The disease, mostly found in tropical countries, can be life-threatening, with nearly half of the world and 97 per cent of Nigeria’s population at risk of the disease.

Nigeria (26.6 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12.3 per cent), Uganda (5.1 per cent), Mozambique (4.1 per cent) and Angola (3.4 per cent) collectively represented half of the total malaria cases worldwide.

Also, Nigeria (31.3 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12.6 per cent), Tanzania (4.1 per cent), and Niger (3.9 per cent) together accounted for slightly more than half of all malaria-related deaths worldwide.

Speaking on the burden of Malaria, Pate challenged world leaders and Nigerians to work together to eliminate malaria in the country.

“Yes, we have made progress in the elimination of Malaria, but we are not satisfied. Data data-driven approach is needed to accelerate progress, better financing, and better partnerships to eliminate malaria. Today I urged everyone of us to challenge and ourselves and work towards eliminating malaria in Nigeria,” the minister said.

He also questioned how Nigeria can be more effective, equitable, coordinated, and aligned to optimise impact with the right combination of tools in the right places, while monitoring progress. 

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He suggested changing the malaria narrative, adding that the country can only shift this narrative and accelerate malaria elimination through a whole-of-society approach. We must all work together across different sectors.”

The identified key shifts and strategic actions to combat malaria in Nigeria, as quoted in a statement released by the minister, include:




     

     

    • Establishing an independent Advisory group on Malaria Elimination in Nigeria (#AMEN);
    • Developing a pragmatic, costed plan for malaria elimination making explicit the required trade offs;
    • Intensified malaria case management, including NHIA reforms, domesticated Affordable Medicines for malaria effort, expanding primary health and frontline workforce;
    • Mobilizing domestic and global funding for malaria;
    • Relentless focus on operational excellence to deploy and optimize existing tools for high coverage, including LLINs, SMC, IPT, IVM and phased introduction of safe, efficacious vaccines;
    • Enhancing community and leadership involvement in malaria elimination;
    • Strengthening data integrity and accountability;
    • Intensifying preparedness and response to climate change’s impacts on malaria;
    • Exploring bold innovations in service delivery and financing mechanisms.

    Challenges with Malaria Interventions

    However, The ICIR reported that some of the malaria interventions, such as the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), have been marred with corruption, misappropriation of funds, lack of state ownership, and poor budget allocation in the past.

    The 2019 Malaria Programme Review (MPR), stated that the country was unable to accomplish the objectives outlined in the National Malaria Strategic Plan and attributed the failure to the government’s inadequate allocation of funds for combating the disease.

    In 2022, the Global Fund, in its audit, accused the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) and the Lagos State Government of misappropriating $19.6 million worth of COVID-19 procurement grants through shady contract awards.

    That was also not the first time the Global Fund would accuse Nigeria of misusing its grants. In 2016, the Fund accused NACA and NMEP of misappropriating the grants they got. The Global Fund consequently suspended them as its grant recipients, and as of 2021, NACA was yet to clear itself of the 2016 indictment before the Nigerian government.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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