With Nigeria rated as accounting for 300,000 of the annual 100 million deaths from malaria complications worldwide, the Dangote Foundation is set to launch a private sector policy document to reverse the trend.
The Foundation said it is championing the eradication of malaria in Nigeria because the death toll from the disease shows that Nigeria has the highest number of malaria casualties in the world.
The Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Foundation, Zouera Yousoufu, revealed in Lagos that the group will on Monday launch a document on “Private Sector Engagement Strategy to Eliminate Malaria in Nigeria” in collaboration with the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Titled: “Engaging the Private Sector to Eliminate Malaria in Nigeria”, Yousoufu said the document was a product of months of planning, surveys and deliberations with key private sector leaders and other critical stakeholders.
The document, she explained, highlights the priority areas for private sector support in the fight against malaria as well as a detailed strategy for private sector engagement and steps for implementation.
According to her, “Nigeria has 25 percent of the world’s disease burden of malaria and reports more deaths due to the disease than any other country in the world. Malaria is responsible for a significant number of deaths of women and children every year.
“It also accounts for 60 per cent of out-patient hospital visits and 30 per cent of hospital admissions. An estimated $1.1 billion (N480 billion) is lost annually in Nigeria due to malaria-related absenteeism and treatment costs.
“With the significant role the private sector already plays in the Nigerian health industry and the economy, and the recent near success in the fight to eradicate polio in the country, it is only natural to leverage the private sector’s strengths and unique capabilities in accelerating the efforts targeting a malaria-free Nigeria. Hence, the development of this strategy document by the NMEP,” she said.
Despite so many gains in malaria prevention and treatment in Nigeria, the widespread prevalence of counterfeit, substandard medicines is said to be contributing to the alarmingly high number of malaria deaths and costs of health care in Nigeria.
According to the Nigerian National Malaria Strategic Plan 2014-2020, malaria is responsible for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 percent of childhood deaths, 25 per cent of deaths in children under one year, and 11 per cent of maternal deaths,” he said.
It would be recalled that the US government, through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced the launch of “Make a Difference” hotline and reward programme that will offer up to $10,000 (approximately two million naira) for information concerning the illegal distribution of stolen and falsified anti-malaria medication in Nigeria.
On why Dangote Foundation is involved in the struggle to eliminate malaria from Nigeria Yousoufu lamented that malaria has remained a major public health problem in the country. “It accounts for over 60 per cent outpatient visits and 30 per cent hospital admissions in Nigeria. The disease has impacted negatively on the economy with about N132 billion lost to the disease as cost of treatment and loss in man-hours,” she said.