The president associated sickness with poverty.
The Federal Government said on Thursday that it was spending N480 billion annually on the management and treatment of malaria in the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan said this in Port Harcourt at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Town Hall meeting on Malaria Elimination and Ground Breaking ceremony of Biolarvicides (insecticides) factory.
Represented by the Health Minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, the president said that a child died of malaria every 45 seconds in Africa. He noted that malaria occurred and killed more people in poor rural communities of the country, saying that poverty and sickness were related.
The minister, who delivered a paper entitled, ‘Malaria and Socio-Economic Impact,’ said people were sick with malaria disease especially because they were poor. He said poverty was a hindrance to the ownership of mosquito nets and noted that some people were poor due to sickness. The minister said persons spent 45 per cent of their income to manage their health challenges, noting that it cost Africa billions of money to manage malaria.
“Malaria bites the income of families; malaria means poverty and the elimination strategy should be based on cost-effectiveness,” Mr. Chukwu said.
He advised Nigerians to guard their environment and called for the re-introduction of sanitary officers to ensure clean and healthy environment in the communities.
In his contribution, the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Ameachi, said poverty remained a huge problem in the country. He, however, said that government at all levels had taken measures to reduce the vice. According to him, his administration has set up several farms that employed thousands of people to encourage self reliance and reduce poverty.
Mr. Amaechi said the affluent in the society did not help the matter, adding that “a lot of rich people have denied the public their rights by stealing public funds.”
He noted that if the billions of naira spent by the Federal Government annually on malaria management was invested on the Biolarvicides company, it would eliminate the disease and save cost.
“’We must invest in the Biolarvicide (insecticides) production,” Mr. Ameachi said.
He said the state government spent N500 million monthly on its free medical care programme and appealed to taxable residents to pay their taxes to qualify for the programme.
The governor also asked Nigerians to pay their bills, especially that of electricity.