Paul Obi in Abuja
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday said the high prevalence of malaria in the country was hampering the Nigerian economy in various dimensions, resulting in the loss of about N132 billion annually to malaria related projects.
This was made known in Abuja during the sensitisation programme on Malaria prevention organised by Africare, through the Power Forward Programme at Government Day Secondary School, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja.
Speaking at the event, WHO National Programme Officer, Dr. Lynda Ozor explained that the impact on the nation’s economy was very severe, cutting across different sectors, which in turn affect the economy negatively.
According to Ozor, “malaria has a devastating effect on the economy, before now it has been estimated that about N132 billion is lost annually due to malaria. This is due to the nets that are distributed, the treatment cost, the out-of-pocket cost, the lost in manpower, the lost in productivity.
“When you estimate these things, they have a devastating effect on the economy. When one person comes down with malaria, the person doesn’t go to work, check the hours that have been lost, check the productivity that has been lost. So it has devastating effect on the economy,” she said.
Ozor further stated that the need to eradicate malaria remains a front burner issue that should be tackled with, women, youth and children being at the forefront.
Africare Project Manager on Power Forward, Terfa Akpoyibo while highlighting the importance of the programme, explained that the objective is to “teach students and youth health literacy, things that they can do to prevent malaria; we work in 10 schools in the FCT,” he said.
According to Akpoyibo, “malaria control, treatment and management” are essential components of the project, adding that, “we will continue with the community sensitisation across the FCT, believing that eliminating malaria is achievable.”
He observed that involving students and youth in the fight against malaria is very strategic in halting the spread of the disease, specifically, as it concerns hygiene and sanitation.
A student of the school, Zulayat Mohammed on her part, said the campaign would help create more public awareness among students in the FCT.
“The malaria campaign is really important, because it educate us on how to prevent malaria, it is not only educating, it helps us create awareness, so that the message on malaria prevention would spread wide and far,” Mohammed said.