By Andy Chukwu
Members of the House of Representatives have called for the free treatment of malaria in public hospitals while advising the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the disease.
The lawmakers unanimously made the appeal while adopting a motion by Bem Mzomdu (PDP, Benue).
Mzomdu, in the motion, said there are over 100 million people at risk of malaria every year in Nigeria with about 50 per cent of the adult population in Nigeria experiencing at least one malaria attack yearly, while the under-five years’ children have up to two to four attacks of malaria annually.
“During the 2005 African Summit on Roll Back Malaria in Abuja, the Heads of Governments and International Agencies signed the Abuja Declaration committing themselves to the Abuja target, one of which stipulated that concerted efforts would be made to ensure that by the end of 2005, at least 60 per cent of those at risk of malaria attacks should have access to good, quality, affordable and efficacious antimalaria drugs.
He noted that the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) launched in 2005, of which Nigeria was part of, aimed at reducing malaria-related mortality by 50 per cent across 15 high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa; using four proven and highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures: Insecticide-Treated Mosquito Nets (ITNs); Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS); Accurate Diagnosis and prompt treatment with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs); and Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Pregnant Women (IPTP).
“PMI Strategy for 2015-2020 takes into account the progress over the past decades and the new challenges that have arisen, including the yearly economic losses due to malaria attack in Nigeria which have been put at 132 Billion Naira due to costs of treatment, transport to sources of treatment, loss of man-hours, absenteeism from schools and other indirect costs.
“Malaria is transmitted throughout Nigeria with 76 per cent of the population living in high malaria transmission areas and 24 per cent in low malaria transmission areas,” he said.
Mzomdu said he was worried that with all the efforts put in place, the cost of effective malaria treatment is still unaffordable to the poor rural dwellers on whom the burden of malaria is heaviest and has frustrated the effort to control the disease.
He emphasised the need to make malaria treatment free in all public hospitals in Nigeria.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the Federal Ministry of Health to implement the National Malaria Treatment Policy and ensure that treatment of malaria in all public hospitals is free across the country.
The lawmakers also resolved to mandate the Committee on Health Care Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health, relevant International Organisations and Donor Agencies to ensure that malaria treatment is free in all public hospitals in Nigeria.
Approximately half of the world population is at risk of contracting malaria.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said 90 per cent of all malaria cases and 91 per cent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa.
Also, about 25 per cent of the global burden of the disease occurs in Nigeria.