Thursday, 10 May 2018

FG, Local Firms Unite On 2020 Target To Eliminate Malaria



... Call For Local Production Of Treated Nets, Antimalarial Medicines

BY
CHIOMA UMEHA
Lagos
To reduce the economic loss of malaria which is put at $2.4 billion yearly, federal government has said it is imperative to begin production of Long-Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (LLINs), anti-malaria medicine in the country and increase research on the disease.
Stating this was the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, who sought collaboration with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in the local production of LLINs, anti-malaria medicine in the country and increase malaria research, saying that this will reduce the disease burden.
Adewole said that the OPS collaboration has become imperative given that over 30 million insecticide treated net used in Nigeria yearly as well as over 80 per cent of the anti-malaria medicine in the country are imported, hence the need to look inward and get the medications manufactured locally.
Speaking during the launch of the Private Sector Engagement Strategy against Malaria (PSESM) document in Lagos being championed by the Dangote Foundation, the Minister of Health, appealed to the private sector operators to support government in its efforts to achieve the task of eliminating Malaria by 2020, which is tagged, ‘Malaria to Zero.’
He stressed that the government alone cannot succeed without the assistance of the corporate firms in achieving the 2020 target.
He said: “We have engaged in series of advocacy which has yielded results, but advocacy is not enough, many people would have been beaten before coming under the insecticide treated net we need research and we realized we can’t do it alone, that is why we are engaging the private sector.
“We need their discipline and efficiency and in the local production of the medicine because that can generate employment in the country.
However, the Minister explained that over the last decade, substantial progress has been made in the control of malaria in the country through significant investment from government and development partners. Also supply and distribution of anti-malaria commodities has increased nationwide.
According to Adewole, over 100 million long-lasting Insecticide treated Net were distributed within the last seven years to protect over 28 million out of the 33 million households in Nigeria.
In his remark, Chairman of the Foundation Aliko Dangote lamented the effect of the malaria scourge to saying “in addition to direct costs to business and the economy, it indirectly damages the economy through the deterioration of human capital, the loss in saving, investments and tax revenues. This is clearly too high of a cost to society and to the economy.”
Dangote stated that Nigeria’s transition from malaria control to elimination provides a compelling opportunity for Nigeria to reflect on its aspirations, take stock on progress and inspire bold, innovative approaches and complementary public private partnerships to disrupt poor malaria outcomes.
He added that the private sector can play an important role in mobilizing domestic resources, capabilities, innovation and advocacy platforms to catalyse progress in achieving Nigeria’s malaria pre-elimination agenda.
As a champion in the private sector active participation in achieving the task of eradicating malaria from Nigeria, Dangote who is the National Malaria Ambassador said he was committed to using his conglomerate, the Dangote Group of companies, as an example of what companies in Nigeria should be doing.
To this effect, he announced that there will be “malaria education for my staff at all of our business locations, distribution of prevention tools and supplies to our workers in the factories and in the fields.”
Dangote said he co-founded the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), which is focused on mobilizing the private sector, across one coordinated platform, to leverage private sector capabilities, advocacy, innovation and resources to complement government efforts in advancing health outcomes.
Other prominent people he had brought on board according to him includes Mr. Bill Gates and other prominent business leaders in Nigeria including Mr. Jim Ovia (Co-chair), Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede (founder, Access bank), Mr. Herbert Wigwe (CEO, Access bank), Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate (Co-chair), Mrs. Sola David Borha and other companies have joined me in support of PHN.
One of the foremost entrepreneur therefore called on more private sector leaders and companies to join the ‘malaria to zero’ campaign to pool resources to have impact at scale that is greater than underlying corporate initiatives against malaria.
Dangote pledged that he would continue to use his voice to create awareness on the fight against Malaria, adding that he had recently accepted an invitation from Bill Gates and Ray Chambers to join them on the End Malaria Council.
The Strategy document titled: “Engaging the Private Sector to Eliminate Malaria in Nigeria was unveiled by all stakeholders including captains of industries, representatives of health organization agencies, Nigerian Medical Association(NMA) as well as NGOs in the health industry.
The document highlights the problems of malaria with statistics and how the private sector can collaborate in eradicating the disease. Its mission is to provide equitable, comprehensive, cost effective, efficient and quality malaria control services ensuring transparency, accountability, client satisfaction, community ownership and partnership.
Participants at the unveiling ceremony agree that the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2014-2020) is a good one, but stressed that the gains of the past years must be sustained.
They warned that care must be taken to ensure transition from malaria control to elimination in the country, which of course could only be achieved with adequate collaboration between government and private sector.
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