By Innocent Onoja
The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), today released its twelfth annual report, documenting progress across its programs, including Nigeria.
In 2017, the United States, through PMI, worked with partner countries to benefit more than 480 million people at risk of malaria across sub-Saharan Africa and targeted communities at risk for malaria in greater Mekong sub-region.
Use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) is one of the most effective measures used to prevent malaria. From 2009 – 2015, the government of Nigeria, with support from partners, distributed approximately 98 million mosquito nets. Progress has been noteworthy. In 2010, 23 percent of the household population slept inside an ITN compared with 37 percent in 2015.
Yet malaria remains a major killer of young children, and during pregnancy the disease can pose a serious, life-threatening risk to a woman and her baby. Malaria is both a major cause and a consequence of global poverty: its burden is greatest among the poorest and the most vulnerable members of society. Malaria causes adults and kids to miss work and school, further entrenching them in poverty and hunger.
PMI works with Nigeria’s National Malaria Elimination Programme to scale-up proven, cost-effective, and life-saving malaria control interventions, namely long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women, diagnostic testing, and highly effective malaria treatment.
Millions of people in Nigeria have been protected from the disease and tested for and cured of malaria, and data from nationwide household surveys have documented significant improvements in the population coverage and impact of malaria control interventions.
Simultaneously, and of equal importance, PMI is strengthening health systems and building the skills of multiple cadres of health workers in Nigeria to effectively deliver malaria services and ministry of health leaders to manage malaria control activities with increasing self-reliance, with the goal of building resilient, self-sustaining structures.
In order for a child sick with malaria, living in a remote village, to receive appropriate care, multiple country-led and managed components, spanning all levels of the healthcare system, must be well-functioning and coordinated.
In addition to improving health outcomes, PMI’s work is accelerating progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. Through investments in health systems and workforce development, antimicrobial resistance monitoring, national laboratory system strengthening, and real-time disease surveillance, PMI is supporting county capacity to effectively prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks and directly contributing to Global Health Security Agenda objectives.
In 2017, PMI announced plans for a five-country expansion adding new country programs in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, and Sierra Leone, growing PMI’s reach to 24 malaria endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States now contributes to effective malaria prevention and control for over half a billion people from the Sahel to the Horn to Southern Africa. In addition, PMI supports Burma, Cambodia, and a regional program in the Greater Mekong Subregion, helping those countries tackle the challenge of antimalarial drug resistance.
“Malaria is a vital investment because control of the disease is central to improving child survival and maternal health, and contributes substantially to eradicating extreme poverty and improving educational outcomes,” said W. Stuart Symington, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria. “Less malaria means fewer days missed at school and work, more productive communities.”
In recognition of World Malaria Day on April 25, the USG takes this opportunity to celebrate the progress to date in the fight to end malaria throughout the world as well as to identify the challenges that remain. The U.S. government, through PMI, stands as a steadfast partner with Nigeria to end malaria for good.
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About USAID: On behalf of the American people, USAID promotes and demonstrates democratic values abroad, and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. In its partnership with Nigeria, the United States strengthens social stability through social services, supports transparent and accountable governance, promotes a more market driven economy, and enhances Nigeria’s capacity as a responsible regional and trade partner.