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Reps urges FG to implement National Malaria treatment policy

...Asks NCDC to contain outbreak of Lassa fever

The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Ministry of Health to implement the National Malaria Treatment Policy and ensure that treatment of malaria in all public hospitals is free across the country.

The Green Chamber mandated its Committee on Health Care Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health, relevant International Organizations and Donor Agencies to ensure that malaria treatment is free in all public hospitals in Nigeria.

These resolutions were reached Wednesday during plenary, following motion on the Review of the National Anti-Malaria Treatment Policy in Nigeria moved by Benjamin Mzondu (PDP, Benue).

Presenting the motion, Mzondu said, the House noted that Nigeria was identified as one of the countries targeted by the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) in 2005 to reduce malaria-related mortality by 50% across 15 high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

He also said the House noted that the initiative revolved around four proven and highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures: Insecticide-Treated Mosquito Nets (ITNs); Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS); Accurate Diagnosis and prompt treatment with Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapies (ACTs); and Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Pregnant Women.

“Further notes that there are over 100 million people at risk of malaria every year in Nigeria and indeed, it was estimated that about 50% of the adult population in Nigeria experienced at least one malaria attack yearly, while the under five years children have up to 2 – 4 attacks of malaria annually.”Recalls that during the 2005 African Summit on Roll Back Malaria in Abuja, the Heads of Governments and International Agencies signed the Abuja Declaration committing themselves to the Abuja target, one of which stipulated that concerted efforts would be made to ensure that by the end of 2005, at least 60% of those at risk of malaria attacks should have access to good, quality, affordable and efficacious antimalaria drugs.

“Aware that the PMI Strategy for 2015-2020 takes into account the progress over the past decades and the new challenges that have arisen, including the yearly economic losses due to malaria attack in Nigeria which have been put at 132 Billion Naira due to costs of treatment, transport to sources of treatment, loss of man-hours, absenteeism from schools and other indirect costs.

“Also aware that in 2011 Nigeria began implementation as a PMI focus country with support to three States of Cross River, Nasarawa, and Zamfara and in 2012, expanded to six more States of Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Kogi, Oyo, and Sokoto while in 2013, it added two more States of Akwa Ibom and Kebbi, bringing the total to 11 States.

“Worried that Malaria is transmitted throughout Nigeria with 76% of the population living in high malaria transmission areas and 24% in low malaria transmission areas. Cognizant that the National Malaria Strategic Plan of 2014-2020 (NMSP-2014-2020) is based on National Strategic Health Development Plan of 2010-2015 and aligns with the National Health and Development Priorities.

“Acknowledges that the Strategy outlines the provision of a comprehensive package of integrated malaria prevention and treatment services through the community, primary, secondary and tertiary levels, defining the roles of each health care cadre/level relative to malaria control and case management across all health care services, including public, private and traditional health providers.

“Worried that with all the efforts put in place, the cost of effective malaria treatment is still unaffordable to the poor rural dwellers on whom the burden of malaria is heaviest and has frustrated the effort to control the disease. Also acknowledges the need to make malaria treatment free in all public hospitals in Nigeria”, Mzondu narrated.

Similarly, the House urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that the outbreak is contained to reduce the fatality ratio in confirmed cases.

It also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to create more awareness on the dangers of Lassa Fever and other communicable diseases to enable the populace adopt preventive measures to avoid contracting the disease.

The Lower Chamber further mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to ensure compliance and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative action.

The House took these resolutions sequel to a motion on Recent Outbreak of Lassa Fever in Benue State sponsored by Robert Tyough (PDP, Benue) who noted that, Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with urine or feaces of a rodent.

Tyough also noted that person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures and that Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.

While leading the debate, he expressed sadness that the fever is spread by the consumption of rodents, which is a delicacy in Benue State and urged the relevant health agencies to find preventive measures to save Nigerians from the lethal disease.

After several contributions in favour of both motions, they were unanimously passed after voice vote put forward by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase who presided over plenary.

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