WHO wants Nigeria, others to tackle malaria

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CHUKWUDevelopment partners commit $82m to fight disease

ALTHOUGH malaria mortality rate is falling in Africa and around the world, there is need to intensify anti-malaria efforts in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, all of which account for 60 per cent of the global malaria burden, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Meanwhile, African countries including Nigeria have recorded 33 per cent reduction in malaria deaths since 2000, according to the World malaria report 2011, issued yesterday by WHO.

According to the report, this success is the result of a significant scaling-up of malaria prevention and control measures in the last decade, including the widespread use of bed nets, better diagnostics and a wider availability of effective medicines to treat malaria.

The fight against malaria in the country recently received a boost as a multi-national collaboration led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) pledged $82 million to tackle the scourge.

Making the disclosure at the launch of Malaria Action Projects for States (MAPS) in Abuja, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terrence Mcculley, said Washington was resolutely committed to partnering with African countries to build capacity in stamping out the disease.

He said: “Under the U.S.-funded President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) there are plans to work with partners to reduce by half, the burden of malaria to 70 per cent of the populations at risk in sub- Saharan African (approximately 450 million residents) thereby eliminating malaria as a major public concern and promoting development throughout Africa.”

MAPS is a USAID-funded integrated malaria project that enjoys PMI support. The MAPS project, which spans five years (2010 to 2015), will run in Zamfara, Benue, Nassarawa, Oyo, Ebonyi and Cross River states.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Pate, disclosed that Nigeria loses about N132 billion yearly to manage malaria illness among its population leading to depletion of labour force through diseases caused by mosquitoes.

Speaking recently at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters, Dr. Robert Newman, director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme made the assertion at a press conference to launch the 2011 World Health Organisation (WHO) World Malaria Report.

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