By Adekunle Adeniyi/TnTv Network
The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2018 – has stated there is a reduction in the malaria prevalence from 42% to 23%, along with a 38% reduction in mortality, according to the 2018 NDHS results. Key progress indicators such as net use, uptake of IPTp by pregnant women, seeking of care during fever, and use of the appropriate anti-malarial are improving. However, a lot still needs to improve, as we are not close to most of the targets we had set out to achieve in our current malaria strategic plan. With the onset of the current COVID-19 pandemic the malaria challenge seems to be compounded.
Speaking at the first 2020 Bi-Annual Media chat on Tuesday in Abuja on National Malaria elimination Programme (NMEP), National coordinator, Dr. Audu Bala Mohammed, on the theme; “Sustaining and improving access to malaria interventions while dealing with COVID19 related stigma and fear”.
Dr Mohammed spoke on the outcomes of a recent survey by Global Funds indicated that malaria and a few other key services are being seriously disrupted on account of countries’ and their health systems’ response to the pandemic. The results highlighted several cancelled or delayed prevention activities. The Global Funds noted that activities are being canceled due to Restrictions on gatherings of people, Transport stoppages, covid-related stigma, Reluctance of health workers to attend to people suspected of having TB or malaria – which have many of the same initial symptoms as COVID-19.
He said;Clients not seeking health services as usual Recent projections suggest that where most prevention activities are cancelled or delayed, and malaria services like insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines experience severe disruption warning that Malaria deaths in Sub-Saharan African could double by the end of this year.
Dr Audu said, Under the worst-case scenario presented in an analysis that was done the death toll in sub-saharan Africa in 2020 would exceed the total number of malaria deaths reported globally in the year 2000.
It is therefore critical that Nigeria and other malaria-endemic countries minimize any disruptions of malaria prevention and treatment during the COVID-19 response given that failure to do so could lead to catastrophic loss of life. For us we intend to ensure access to and use of ITNs are maintained through campaigns that are adapted to protect health workers and communities from COVID-19. We also intend to continue case management of malaria, including prompt diagnostic testing and treatment, delivered safely and appropriately.
The National Malaria Elimination Programme has developed and is implementing a business continuity plan for the rest of this year, prioritizing interventions, streamlining campaign activities (for both Long Last Insecticidal Nets and Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention), and developing appropriate messaging including risk communication based on the evolving pandemic.
He however canvassed that necessary preventive measures to avoid getting sick with malaria such as sleeping inside the net every night, having screens on doors and windows (for those that can afford it), pregnant women uptake of preventive medicines at regular intervals during pregnancy, and ensuring children below 5 years in the sahelian region are brought out to have preventive medicines during the SMC campaigns.
It is against this backdrop that NMEP invites you as conveyors of information, molders of public opinion, and advocates stimulating public discourse and setting the agenda through editorials, stories and opinionated articles for all critical stakeholders to join in the fight against both malaria and COVID-19. I want to use this opportunity to thank each and every one of you and the media organizations you represent for your support to ensure that further progress is made in the control of malaria.