by Phillip Anjorin
The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has indeed caught the world unaware and made the health sector give minimal attention to the silent killers pervading the planet. More than ever, the need for critical steps to caution these deadly diseases, with particular emphasis on malaria, can not be overestimated.
Indubitably, pre-set targets of ensuring a healthy world have been neglected while mankind struggle for survival. Among the steps taken by the Federal Executive Council in Nigeria prior to the pandemic outbreak was the creation of National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) with the Malaria Strategic Plan 2014-2020, a visionary move to transit from malaria control to elimination in the country. However, the steady lockdown of activities in Nigeria by March 2020 need no soothsayer to foresee the change at sight as evidenced by the pause of actions to achieve these goals.
Nigeria accounts for 25% of global cases and 24% death rate, an unmatched feat across the world in 2018 according to the 2019 World Malaria Report. Also, statistics according to the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) disclosed that malaria claims over 300, 000 lives yearly in Nigeria alone while other malaria-related issues cost the country an estimated annual loss of $1.1 billion.
Researchers further revealed that adult workers often miss lengthy periods of work when caring for themselves or loved ones down with the illness. This has often incurred loss on human capital and financial resources as revenues which ought to have been useful in other fields are diverted to cover the treatment expenses. On estimate, this has led to production loss of 1 to 5 percent of Nigeria’s GDP.
Admittedly, the fight against malaria has gained weight over the years across the world and Nigeria is not left out. In Nigeria alone, over 58 million LLINs have been distributed within the last decade. Corporate organisations are also putting all hands on deck to ensure that malaria-incurred expenses among their workforce is reduced to its barest minimum.
In a survey carried out by CAMA/PHN on 11 leading companies from different sectors in Nigeria in 2016, it was revealed that respondent companies invest about #3.2 billion annually into healthcare. Of this, about 40% is directed at supporting malaria control.
At this stage, we must commend the efforts of the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA) in this battle as they are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that all societal stakeholders, particularly the corporate sector, are paying their dues in ensuring that Nigeria lives without Malaria.
With the vision to promote active inclusion of of the private sector into the actualization of Zero Malaria, CAMA has partnered with different organizations like Coca-cola, Access bank, Etisalat, HACEY Health Initiatives among others to organise programmes targeted at advocating for healthcare reform in the country.
Nevertheless, the war is far from over. Challenges are still far ahead. The Zero malaria vision in Nigeria is still obtainable. There is a need for more involvement of the private sector to aid government’s efforts across the country through reaching out to grassroot settlements for a unified goal.
We sincerely believe that a synergy of strategic action between the public and private sector towards eradicating malaria will make up for the lost years caused by the pandemic outbreak. The dream is achievable,if only we unite in thoughts, resources and action.