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World Malaria Day 2021: Having a change of Behaviour Is The Only Way We Can Attain Zero Malaria Cases In Nigeria – Dr Betta Edu

Cross River State joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 World Malaria Day on 25 April. During a briefing with Breakthrough-Action Nigeria media partners in Calabar, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu in her message underscores this year’s theme; ‘Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria’; to call for “renewed effort towards ending the scourge of the disease for good”.

The commissioner stressed the need for individuals across the world to make personal commitments towards saving lives, helping communities and economies to thrive by eliminating malaria.

According to her, Nigeria has made remarkable progress in malaria control efforts over the years, but continues to occupy an uncomfortable position in the global burden of disease, accounting for 25% and 19% of global cases and deaths respectively.

Betta, who explained the importance of accurate diagnosis in the treatment of malaria, stressed that accurate diagnosis of malaria would improve the quality of patient care and that the high burden of Malaria in the state could be attributed to the behaviour of some inhabitants, which encourage the availability of stagnant water resulting in breeding sites for the anopheles.

“One serious issue in Behavioural change and diagnosis is the fact that most people do not test for malaria before they treat. So once you have a fever, its automatically malaria. All fever in Nigeria are called Malaria.”

“That is leading us to a bigger problem, by the time they take the first and second dose and they feel some relief. The person will just abandon the drugs, not knowing they are beginning to build resistance.” Dr. Betta said.

She also mentioned that the country had a setback a last year as a result of the global pandemic, which resulted to the government’s attention moving away from malaria to Covid-19.

“The entire world is trying to push towards that finish line where we can have zero malaria cases. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. For Nigeria and Cross River State, we had lots of setback last year with the covid-19 pandemic and a lot of attention was moved from malaria, which is one of the deadliest disease and its still taking the topmost chat on diagnosis made in all public health facilities in state shifted to covid-19.”

“Most of the intervention during the lockdown was brought to a halt. However, we are picking up again and trying to get back to where we need to be”.

” Firstly, we want to be able to provide universal health access to malaria treatments, management, diagnosis, care in Cross River State and that is why malaria is topmost on the state health insurance scheme as parts of the benefits which we would be providing for Cross Riverians.”

“Secondly, there is a lot of push for behavioural change, because that’s the only way we can arrive at having zero malaria. We can hit the finish line if we change our behaviours.”

“We are also grateful to our partners for the efforts they have put in over the years, sensitizing and enlightening people, community engagements and media. We are also grateful to Breakthrough-Action Nigeria for ensuring that behavioral change is a keynote factor and supporting Cross River State to achieve this”.

” Cross River State has done well, in 2019 we gave out over 2.4 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets(LLINs). We also encouraged families to hang these nets up. We had written to the Traditional Rulers Council in the state, trying to work with them to fight malaria at the community level. We also discussed with the Cross River State House of Assembly to put forward a bill which would be signed into law by the governor prohibiting the use of LLINs for farming activities or any other activity outside what it is meant for.”

To conclude the briefing, the commissioner enumerated key achievements recorded by the Malaria Programme in the state and emphasized that an all-inclusive effort is required to rid the country of the deadly disease.

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