By Hassan Zaggi
The UK Department for International Development (DfID) funded programme- SuNMaP 2 and the Federal Government of Nigeria have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in an effort to drastically reduce the burden of malaria in the country.
The MoU which is going to be the last bilateral support of DfID to Nigeria on malaria is basically in the area technical support.
SuNMaP 2 is a DfID funded bilateral programme implemented by an international Non-Governmental Organsiation (NGO)- Malaria Consortium, with the goal of supporting government’s efforts at reducing malaria burden in Nigeria.
Malaria Consortium, in collaboration with the federal government recently launched a programme worth over N23 billion to reduce the burden of malaria in six states including Jigawa, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Lagos and Yobe.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU in Abuja, yesterday, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, noted that the MoU represents a new partnership which is being supported by the UK government.
The MoU, according to him, will help Nigeria to fast-track its elimination plan with respect to malaria.
“It is essentially going to be different because the bulk of the support is going to the technical area. It is like they are going to train us to work on our own.
“We will be in the driver seat but they will provide support and many of it will be technical in terms of planning, implementation, building capacity and also scaling down to the states and local governments.
“This will be in consonance with our own plan of actually mainstreaming malaria control and elimination at local government level,” Adewole said.
Responding to questions from journalists, Malaria Consortium’s West and Central Africa Programmes Director, Dr Kolawole Maxwell, lamented that the burden of malaria is increasing in Nigeria.
He revealed that: “We are seeing a situation in which the epidemiology and science are different in several parts of the country and what that means is that the capacity and information that is required is not only required at the national level but it is also significantly important at the sub-national level where they should be able to not only deliver this services but gather evidences in this regard.”
While explaining some specific areas of the MoU, Dr Maxwell, said: “ This MoU states very clearly the aspects the programme will be supporting Nigeria on like strengthening the capacity of National Malaria Elimination Programme and the states and also how to strengthen the system that will be supporting services but also emphasizes the type of service that the programme will be concentrating upon and the support the programme will be providing on the demand side in terms of increasing social accountability and lastly embedding the culture of using evidence to plan at both national and sub national.”
He further explained that: “The MoU also clearly documents the expectation of the programme from the government, specifically around sustainability.
“This will require the government to have dedicated committees to be looking at the progress towards the sustainability and be periodically assessing the speed at which the programme is going in that direction.
“However, in addition, at almost the second or third year of the programme, we will have to be seeing some significant demonstration of the government to take full ownership of the programme.”