Marks World Malaria Day with road walk
By Ruth Orji
ANAMBRA State Ministry of Health in collaboration with Cynthia Azubogu Foundation and Anambra Transformation Ambassadors has joined the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day with the theme: ‘Ready to Beat Malaria and Together we can’ yesterday.
In a press briefing with newsmen, the Commissioner for Health, Joesephat Akabuike, called on other states to join hands with their counterparts in eliminating malaria, thereby achieving the WHO objective of eliminating malaria in Africa in the year 2020.
Dr. Akabuike lamented that malaria has been responsible for 60% of all the Out Patients visits in specialist and general hospitals, 30% of childhood deaths, 25% of deaths of children under the age of one with 11% of women that died in the process of childbirth.
In Nigeria, the financial loss associated to malaria has been estimated to N32 billion naira and this money is spread in the diagnosis, treatment and loss of manpower associated with people suffering from malaria.
He stated that apart from being associated with illness, malaria is synonymous to poverty and major hindrance to economic development. The disease has been associated with major negative economic in regions where it is wide spread during the 19th and 20th century and a major factor of socio economic development in Southern American States.
Tropical regions are affected most. However, malaria has spread further reaching some temperate zones with extreme seasonal changes. African nations including Nigeria have been involved in celebrating malaria every year but some quarters have not been able to do it the way it should be done especially state and local governments.
The state has embarked on many intervention programmes which includes procurement and distribution of long lasting insecticide nets, diagnosis kits, drugs for treatment and prevention.
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer and a host of the programme, Cynthia Azubogu said, “I look at it that a lot of people have been dying and most especially we are focusing on women and children. Most of the women and child death cases are mostly caused by malaria especially pregnant women.
I decided not we advocate for women and children through creating an antimalaria programme and thereby eliminating death and suffering caused by malaria.
According to a resident in Awka, Chinwe Okoye, malaria is a serious and global issue that requires the concerted effort of the general public in ensuring that our environs are clean and the water ways flow freely so as not to give room for mosquitoes to breed on.
Highlight of the event was a road walk from Ekwueme Square down to Eke-Awka.
In another development, the head of the United Nations Health Agency, stressed the need to get the global response against the disease back on track while acknowledging progress that had helped avert millions of malaria deaths, especially among children, since 2000.
“The latest data from WHO show that the global malaria response is at a crossroads.” the agency’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in his video message for the day, that the declining trend in malaria cases and deaths has stalled, and vital funding for malaria programmes has flat lined.
“If we continue along this path, we will lose the gains for which we have fought so hard,” he added. Although more and more countries have eliminated the disease, challenges remain.
In 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries, an increase of 5 million cases over 2015, and malaria deaths reached 445,000, a slight decrease from 446,000 in 2015 but still a significant number.
The UN health chief called on countries and the global health community to close the critical gaps in the malaria response, and urged all partners to unite around a common goal: accelerating the pace of progress.
“Together, we must ensure that no one is left behind in accessing life-saving services to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria,” he said.