The United States government has expressed disappointment at the way Nigerian authorities are handling programmes to eliminate malaria in Nigeria.
The American government’s stance was made known at the launch of the Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey report in Abuja on Monday.
The Country Director of United State Agency for International Development, USAID, Michael Harvey, said the implementation of the National Malaria Elimination Programme, NMEP, in Nigeria was riddled with several ‘shortcomings’.
Mr. Harvey said millions of dollars spent so far on the programme have not reflected in performance and delivery, making the project a long one to cover.
He said the Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey report was aimed at measuring progress on Malaria elimination implementation efforts, “with the objective of ensuring that by 2020, no child or adult dies from malaria related ailment.”
He said: “We are not treating Malaria proper. I am surprised to find out that, when you travel around Nigeria, Chloroquine is readily available and too readily prescribed as a treatment for malaria.
“Worst, this is actually a major public policy that we have to get on top of. We are still producing Chloroquine in Nigeria, a drug that has no beneficial use either for malaria or any other use. We must get on top of these shortcomings.
“We have a long way to go. So please support your health workers, support your communities, health volunteers, get them the tools they need, let’s get on top of it.
“We have seen across Africa tremendous decline in Malaria across the continent. We are behind, but Malaria is eliminable and that is one of the most urgent messages. We have a lot of work to do and let’s do it” he concluded.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said no other disease has affected Nigeria like Malaria, “given that Malaria is responsible for 11 per cent of maternal mortality, responsible for 25 per cent of infant mortality and 35 per cent of under-five mortality”.
Mr. Adewole said Malaria is the single most important reason why Nigerians visit health facilities.
“60-70 per cent consultation and hospitals visits are due to malaria, and therefore this is one major problem we must face. And when we invest in this war, the savings would be huge.
“Nigeria loses about N132 billion to malaria, and these are savings that could be ploughed back into our economy if appropriately used, as malaria remains a major public health challenge,” the minister said.