•US spends $768m to fight malaria in country
*ExxonMobil spent over $37.4m on anti-malaria programmes in nation in 20 years
•Obaseki canvasses innovative financing in the disease fight
As the world yesterday marked the World Malaria Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that no fewer than 602,000 people died of malaria in Nigeria and other African countries in 2021.
WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, stated this yesterday, in her message to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day titled: “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives.”
She noted that, “Malaria remains a significant public health and development challenge. In the last year, about 95 per cent of the estimated 228 million cases occurred in the WHO/AFRO Region, along with 602,020 reported deaths.
“Six of our countries, the worst-impacted by malaria in the region, are reported to have accounted for up to 55 per cent of cases globally, and for 50 per cent of these deaths.”
The commemoration of World Malaria Day is marked annually to focus global attention on the disease and its devastating impact on families, communities, and societal development, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Moeti said the past year saw significant breakthroughs in malaria prevention and control, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite some slowing of progress to reduce malaria cases and deaths, and the disruptions to health services caused by COVID-19, we are still much further ahead than we were in 2000. We need to reignite that momentum and build on the recent advances.
“The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people catching and dying from malaria. This requires a focus on research and on leveraging available evidence to ensure that our targeted interventions are an efficient use of resources, which produce measurable results,” she added.
However, the United States yesterday disclosed that it spent $768 million from 2011 to date to fight the disease in Nigeria.
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Precisely, in 2021 alone, the United State revealed that it spent $74 million on malaria scourge despite the outbreak of COVID-19 and new demand on combating the global challenge of the pandemic.
A statement yesterday, by US Embassy in Nigeria, stated that the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) had partnered with Nigeria to fight malaria since 2011, contributing $768 million to date and $74 million in full year 2021.
The PMI’s Annual Report, released yesterday showcased how the strong partnership between the United States and Nigeria enabled robust and effective malaria services to continue in FY 2021, even as COVID-19 caused enormous strain on the health system.
It added that: “Through PMI funding and programmes, 58 million bed nets, 130 million fast acting medicines, and 82 million malaria test kits have been delivered to clinics and communities since 2011.
“In addition, 24 million preventive treatment doses were delivered to pregnant women and 13 million doses to children during the rainy season. In the past year, more than 3,666 health workers received training that amplified their ability to detect and treat malaria, while strengthening the health system overall and providing key skills to fight COVID-19 and future pandemics.”
The statement quoted the USAID Mission Director Anne Patterson to have said: “I think what Nigeria is doing to advance more effective malaria prevention, treatment, and control is so important, especially the introduction of innovative tools to make better use of the data in real-time, and also to enhance quality of care via community-based health workers.”
Assisted by PMI investments, Nigeria is progressing its fight against malaria using proven and cost-effective methods that save lives and promise a healthier and prosperous future for families and communities, according to the statement.
ExxonMobil Spent over $37.4m on Anti Malaria Programmes in Nigeria in 20 Years
In a related development, American oil and gas giant, ExxonMobil, said it invested more than $37.4 million or over N15 billion in Nigeria-based malaria programmes since 2002 through its humanitarian organ, the ExxonMobil Foundation.
It explained that the fund was spent in cash grants to partners working to develop community-based solutions in Nigeria since 2002.
The international oil company (IOC) said in the last 20 years, the foundation had embarked on funding community education, providing tools for prevention and treatment of the disease and training of health workers, adding that its 2022 grant recipients focused on leveraging the power of sports to engage Nigerian youth.
The foundation in collaboration with ExxonMobil affiliate companies in Nigeria, also announced renewed support for partner organisations committed to ending malaria in Nigeria.
In a statement issued yesterday, it explained that these grants, among other scheduled activities for World Malaria Day, marked the 20th anniversary of ExxonMobil’s support for programmes to reduce the burden of malaria in Nigeria.
Marking its 20th year of malaria fight in Nigeria and in continuation of this legacy, the oil major has, however, announced its 2022 grant recipients.
They included PanAfricare, in conjunction with NBA Power Forward, to foster the development of youth in Nigeria through sports, life skills and malaria education; and Grassroot Soccer, to use the convening power of soccer to increase awareness of malaria and HIV/AIDS among young people across Nigeria through sports curriculum.
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Another recipient is Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, aimed to advance scientific knowledge and understanding to advance progress toward the eradication of malaria.
“This World Malaria Day, we mark ExxonMobil’s contributions over the past two decades that have helped equip and strengthen resilience within our communities to fight against malaria.
“Thanks to these efforts, Nigeria is better prepared to continue the progress we have made and work toward a malaria-free future,” Chairman and Managing Director, ExxonMobil affiliate Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Richard Laing, said.
ExxonMobil’s Malaria Initiative works with nonprofit partners and leading global health organizations to advance progress against the disease in malaria-endemic countries by supporting malaria education and awareness, improving access to tools for prevention, diagnosis and treatment, strengthening health infrastructure and advancing research and innovation.
The initiative continues to support malaria prevention and control programs in Nigeria, a country which currently accounts for more than one quarter of the global burden of the disease.
In honor of World Malaria Day, the company said these partners were focused on leveraging the power of sports and media to reach Nigerian youth, through malaria-themed tournaments and creative radio, television and school-based malaria campaigns, among other activities.
Obaseki Canvasses Innovative Financing in Anti-malaria Fight
Meanwhile, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has urged stakeholders to explore innovative approaches to financing efforts and technologies for the prevention and control of malaria disease so as to realise the global zero malaria target.
The governor made the call in commemoration of World Malaria Day, yesterday, to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment to malaria prevention and control.
Obaseki urged youths to support the global effort to eliminate malaria by developing innovations and technologies for the prevention and treatment of the disease.
Obaseki noted, “As we commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day, we must reinforce efforts and strengthen alliances to reduce the burden of the malaria disease, one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases estimated to have claimed over 627, 000 lives in about 85 countries in one year.
“While governments across all levels intensify efforts at improving community-focused malaria interventions, especially in hard-to-reach communities, global stakeholders must strive to bridge the funding gap in achieving a future free of malaria by exploring innovative approaches to stimulate investments in the prevention and control of the disease.
“If the 2030 zero-malaria target must be achieved, we must embrace multi-sectoral collaborations, public-private partnerships and technology-led solutions, leveraging on the innate potential of the youths, to establish a robust malaria control programme, ensuring the prevention, detection and cure of the disease.”
The governor, who noted that his government had embarked on interventions, including the distribution of treated mosquito nets, advocacy and others to ensure that the people are properly equipped to fight malaria, said the state is revamping its health system to bring quality primary healthcare closer to citizens.
He noted that his administration had also ramped up the construction of primary healthcare centres at the ward level across the state, ensuring that each centre is equipped with the right manpower and equipment to sustain the campaign against malaria and other infectious diseases.
Ninety percent of medical consultants leaving Nigeria –MDCAN
The Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria has shown that nine out of every 10 medical and dental consultants with less than five years of experience plan to leave the country for greener pastures.
The MDCAN said the survey carried out in March 2022 by its Medical Education Committee also found that over 500 medical and dental consultants had left Nigeria for developed countries over the preceding two years.
The association made this known in a statement signed by its President, Dr Victor Makanjuola, and made available to The PUNCH on Wednesday.
The statement read in part, “Disturbed by the impact of this ugly trend on our country’s health sector growth and development, the MDCAN has conducted a survey among its chapters in March 2022 and found that over 500 medical and dental consultants had left Nigeria for more developed countries over the preceding two years.
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“A further exploration of data by the association’s Medical Education Committee showed that nine out of every 10 medical and dental consultants with less than five years experience on the job had plans to leave the country.
“Furthermore, the Nigerian Medical Association recently reported that only 24,000 doctors are currently registered to practise in Nigeria, giving a ratio of one doctor to over 8,000 Nigerians, against the World Health Organisation’s recommended ratio of one doctor to every 600 people.
“It is important to note that the average medical and dental consultant is not only a clinician but also doubles as a teacher for medical students and doctors in specialist (residency) training. It, therefore, goes without saying that the loss of this category of highly skilled workforce to other countries will not only have an immediate negative impact on clinical service delivery but will leave a long-term devastating impact on the training of future doctors in Nigeria.”
According to the association, the country produces approximately 12,000 doctors per year to meet the required number of doctors in the country.
“Anecdotal projections indicate that the 3,000 fresh medical and dental doctors, on average, produced by our local medical schools in Nigeria and another 1,000 produced by foreign medical schools, fall far short of the number of such healthcare personnel required to meet the country’s yearly medical manpower supply needs, estimated to fall between 10,000 and 12,000 (about three times the current rate),” it added.
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No going back on December strike – UK nurses
Nurses across the UK are set go on strike after ministers rejected their pleas for formal talks over NHS pay.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says there is no going back on the individual action, declaring that its members will stage the national strike – the first in its 106-year history – on 15 and 20 December.
The industrial action is expected to last for 12 hours on both days – most likely between 8am and 8pm.
The unprecedented national industrial action will seriously disrupt care and is likely to be the first in a series of strikes over the winter and into the spring by other NHS staff, including junior doctors and ambulance workers.
The RCN said it had confirmed the dates after the UK government turned down its offer of formal, detailed negotiations as an alternative to industrial action.
“Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time,” said the RCN general secretary, Pat Cullen. “My offer of formal negotiations was declined and, instead, ministers have chosen strike action.
“They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute. Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”
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The strikes will take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RCN will announce which particular NHS employers will be affected next week, when formal notifications are submitted, it said.
In Scotland, the RCN has paused announcing strike action after the Scottish government reopened NHS pay negotiations.
The strikes are taking place after a series of individual ballots were held at NHS trusts and boards, rather than one national ballot.
At more than 40% of England’s hospitals, mental health and community services nurses will not be entitled to strike because the turnout was too low in those ballots. Action can happen, however, at all of Northern Ireland’s health boards and all but one in Wales.
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