The federal government yesterday revealed that N480 billion has been spent as out of pocket expenses by Nigerians in the treatment and prevention of malaria in the country. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure at the launch of the Fever Care Media campaign in Abuja, organised by the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) with support of the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), themed; ‘Mama Put.’ The initiative is aimed at promoting prompt care-seeking for fever, testing all fever cases before treatment and adherence to completing a full dose of ACT when the test for malaria is positive. However, Ehanire, who was represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr. Alex Okoh, stressed that despite these formidable numbers, Nigeria was recording huge gains in the battle against malaria.
He said: “The 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey show that the National prevalence of malaria parasitaemia in children under five years of age has increased from 42 Percent in 2010 to 23 per-cent in 2015. “Although, of course, there are significant regional, rural and socio economic differences. The good news is that we have reduced the malaria burden in young children by almost half. “The disease over burdened the health system and hamstrings our economy if we tax the gross domestic product by 40 per cent annually.” The minister added that ending malaria in the country would increase school attendance, boost workers’ productivity and significantly lower family’s medical costs. Dr. Bolatito Aiyenigba, deputy director, Malaria and Tuberculosis, Breakthrough ACTION, Nigeria, said that the vision of NMEP was to have a malaria- free Nigeria.
“Although knowledge and awareness about malaria in Nigeria is currently as high as 97 per cent (NDHS 2018), persisting behavioral barriers continue to hinder the attainment of the country’s malaria elimination goal, “he said. Aiyenigba added that Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) interventions played an important role in improving malaria testing and treatment behaviors by increasing prompt care-seeking for fever, increasing demand for testing before treatment, and increasing adherence to using and completing artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). The face of ‘Mama Put,’ Nigerian Nollywood actor, Ada Ameh, explained that she used absurd examples to illustrate the errors of people’s ways, especially when it comes to taking care of fever. “Mama Put is a well loved small restaurant owner with a biting sense of humor and very little patience for foolishness,’’ said.”