By Abasi Ita, Calabar
USAID Breakthrough Action Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation with the primary goal of orienting the populace towards healthier attitudinal changes needed to promote healthy living in society has raised the alarm over the high prevalence rate of malaria infection in Cross River State.
Senior Programme Officer of the organisation, Dr. Olusola Adeoye disclosed this in Calabar during a media parley packaged in collaboration with the Cross River State Ministry of Health to herald a statewide campaign to propagate the use of “Insecticide Treated Nets ITNs which is expected to culminate in the free distribution of 2.79 million ITNs across every household in the state.”
According to her, statistics from Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey NIMS indicate that the current prevalence of malaria in Nigeria is 22%, indicating a reduction from 27% recorded in 2015, while the Cross River prevalence rate stands at 24%, projecting the state as one of the highest in the country.
Dr. Adeoye solicited concerted efforts from stakeholders to curb the disturbing scenario given the high maternal and infant mortality attributable to malaria.
The program officer hinted that media parley was designed to guarantee a robust synergy between Breakthrough Nigeria and the media to boost efforts targeting at encouraging the use of Insecticide Treated Nets which have been proven as a reliable and cheapest means of preventing mosquito bites leading to malaria infection.
Declaring the event open, the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Janet Ekpenyong stated that “Nigeria accounts for 66 million malaria cases annually with an estimated 30% of child deaths and 11% of maternal deaths due to the disease.
She noted that drastic measures from stakeholders in the health sector and the citizenry to curtail the menace posed by malaria, especially about ongoing efforts aimed at ensuring that people sleep inside the nets.
She lauded Breakthrough Action Nigeria and other support partners for effective collaboration in checkmating the dangers of malaria, especially among the vulnerable cadre of pregnant women and children below five years.
The commissioner revealed that “a total of 13,570 personnel comprising health workers and ad-hoc staff have been engaged, trained and deployed to every nook and crannies and the state to educate, inform and demonstrate the use of the ITNs to guarantee optimum compliance which is vital to combating the malaria disease”.
Earlier, the state health educator Mrs. Ekpo Archibong opined that the media interaction was designed to keep the public abreast with innovative approaches to contending malaria given the health, economic, and educational burden imposed on society by malaria.