Urgent call for Behavioral Change To Eliminate Malaria In Our State.” – Dr Betta Edu*
April 25 every year is set aside to commemorate the World Malaria Day, with this year’s theme “Zero Malaria” and the slogan; Draw A Line Against Malaria, the Honorable Commissioner for Health Dr Betta Edu during this year’s event has commended the Government of his Excellency Sen Ben Ayade for the over 80% coverage of Long lasting insecticide treated net in communities as 2.4 million nets were recently distributed to families in Cross River state.
The Health Boss said for Cross River state to eliminate malaria, which takes over 229,000 lives in Nigeria yearly, there is urgent need for behavioral Changes/Attitudinal changes amongst our people and the need to improve case management, Advocacy, data management and private sector inclusion. Speaking during the event, the Health Commissioner frowned at the nonchalant attitude of our people especially pregnant women and nursing mothers whose attitude has made it so difficult for this fight to be won.
“Let me start by thanking the Chairman of Calabar South LGA Hon. Esther Bassey for her tremendous support that has so far made this event a huge success. as a State we will continue to build the health system and improve until we attain Universal Health Coverage. We have flagged off the state health insurance scheme and malaria case management will be covered under the basic Benefit Package so everyone must register. Malaria accounts for the most frequently diagnosed disease in public hospitals in Cross River state, 97% exposure level as such everyone must protect themselves against mosquitoes.
Dr Edu called on cross riverians to imbibe the culture of keeping their environment clean, efficient case management, testing before treatment and sleeping under the mosquito insecticide treated nets. She emphasized that not every fever is caused by Malaria. “Its a common practice amongst our people that the over 2.4m LLINs that were being distributed across the State are now being used as farm tools, communities now use them to cover their water leaf beds, use them as fishing nets, etc ignoring the dangers that comes with that as such nets are filled with chemicals. The issue of self medication, poor visit to hospitals for testing and treatment, etc needs to stop if we must eradicate Malaria in our State. She ended by thanking the efforts of Partners USAID, PMIS, Breakthrough action, MDF, WHO etc who have done so much in this area. Dr Edu appreciated traditional rulers, health workers, mothers and children with a charge that more still needs to be done.
On her part, the DG of the CRSPHCDA Dr Janet Ekpenyong charged health workers to spend more time in the community and ensure a proper sensitization of our people on the importance of sleeping under the insecticide nets rather than using them for farming and other purposes. She emphasized on the fact that children under five are mostly affected and must be protected with health workers capacity built to offer services. The Chairman of Calabar South Hon. Esther Bassey who played host commended the efforts of the Health Commissioner as she has brought magnificent results and achievements in the health sector, she charged her people to utilize every given opportunity offered them by the government to ensure they keep themselves safe from Malaria especially as they are the LGA with the lowest usage of the distributed LLINs. Hon. Esther advised them to always keep their environments clean and access medical care for Malaria. This too was the message of HRH Muri Eyo Okon who spoke on behalf of the traditional rulers.
Highlight of the event was the donation of over 24000 doses of antiMalaria drugs to Calabar South LGA, free testing and treatment of Malaria, launching of the Malaria bulletin containing all the needed information on Malaria, free community net hanging exercise/sensitization, removal of misused mosquito nets for agricultural purposes across the streets of Calabar South, sensitization on the importance of sleeping under the LLINs.
The event also had in attendance Directors of the CRSMOH and CRSPHCDA, Partners from Breakthrough Action, WHO, USAID, UNDSS, Calabar South Legislative Council, Dr Victor Bassey, PMI for State, Health Workers, Traditional Rulers, Youth leaders, Mothers, Pregnant women, School children and a host of other dignitaries.