By Lazarus Zakaa, Abuja.
Over 145 million long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) have been distributed in 33 States over the past 6 years.
These include 130.42 million distributed in mass replacement campaigns and over 16.3 million LLINs distributed through the routine system.
The National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme Dr. Audu B. Mohammed, disclosed this in a statement on Friday while doing a brief review on the extent of implementation of the Malaria Strategic Plan 2014 – 2020 which is due to expire by the end of the year.
Dr Audu observed that there have been increases in the utilization of the nets by the most vulnerable population groups.
He said that, the percentage of pregnant women who slept under ITN increased from 17% in 2013 to 49% in 2015 and rose to 58% in 2018 while the percentage of children U5 who slept under ITN increased from 16% in 2013 to 44% in 2015 and 52% in 2018.
The National Coordinator noted that, though the Programme could not achieve the pre-elimination that it set out to achieve mass reductions have been recorded in the malaria prevalence from 42% in 2010 to 27% in 2015 and 23% in 2018, based on NDHS results.
He pointed out that an increasing number of states with decreasing malaria burden below or equal to 15% such as Lagos (2%), Imo (8%), Borno (10%), Rivers (11%), Bayelsa (13%), Benue (13%), Yobe (13%), Abia (14%), Nasarawa (14%) and Edo (15%).
Dr Audu further stated that NMEP ensured the availability of quality anti-malarial commodities for all Nigerians based on limited resources.
From 2016 to 2019, he said, the programme provided over 92 million doses of ACTs (anti-malarials), 22.5 million Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine (SP) doses and over 3 million vials of Artesunate Injection.
According to him, access to ACTs has improved significantly to 52% (2018 NDHS) from 18% in 2013 and the percentage of pregnant women who received IPT3 has increased from 5.5% (2013 NDHS) to 16.6% (2018 NDHS).
He said, the cumulative number of children reached with interventions from 2015 – 2019 was 12,583,379, with 48,329,983 seasonal malaria chemo-prevention (SMC) treatments (targeting children) being provided in101 LGAs.
He however expressed regret that 30% of States were without support thereby resulting in inadequate supply in malaria medicines and commodities in those states.
On testing (with either microscopy or RDT in both public and private health facilities), Dr Audu Bala Mohammed stated that there is a slight increase from 13% in 2015 (NMIS) to 14% in 2018 (NDHS), which fell significantly short of the >70% target set in the MSP.
While highlighting that timeliness and completeness of reporting on DHIS 2.0 platform have steadily increased over the last four or five years with virtually all the LGAs currently reporting, the completeness of reporting by the Health Facilities on the DHIS platform has increased from 53.2% in 2014 to 79.2% in 2018.
The National Coordinator highlighted the key challenges mitigating the achievement of set targets to include suboptimal capacity for programme delivery at the subnational levels, security challenges which have impacted on access to certain areas, low malaria testing as well as poor quality of data emanating from the subnational levels.
He pointed out that the Programme is currently developing a new malaria strategic plan that will ensure increased domestic resource mobilization, Increased coverage with interventions and improved private sector engagement.
Adding that the new malaria strategic plan is built on lessons learnt, new thinking in the malaria programme, key policy directions from the Federal Ministry of Health following the development of the National Strategic Health Development Plan as well as experiences from programme implementers at national and sub-national levels.