The Mission Director Representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Nigeria, Dr. Rick Niska has handed over 4.5 million bed nets to Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi for the state.
The bed nets valued at $13.5 million, which is being distributed to the thirty-three local government areas of the state will aid in reducing the prevalence of malaria in the state.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony marking the formal handover, the representative said the United States Government also provided an additional $4.5 million to support the logistics of the campaign, including transportation of the bed nets, community mobilisation, training, and household mobilisation, adding that the nets and the support for distribution were a gift from the people of the United States to Oyo State residents.
“We congratulate you on the ambition, initiative, and dedication it takes to plan, coordinate, and launch a statewide mass distribution of bed nets,” noting that malaria was one of the leading killers of children and a leading cause of illness in Nigeria, particularly during the rainy season when the mosquito population increases.
“Nightly use of an insecticide treated bed net is the best way to prevent malaria. Bed nets put a vital barrier between people and the mosquitoes that carry malaria, particularly during the hours from dusk to dawn. Use of insecticide treated bed nets prevents infections, which in turn prevents the spread of malaria. Bed nets help to interrupt that cycle. A bed net not only protects an individual –when bed nets are used by everyone, particularly those who are already sick with malaria, bed nets also prevent others from becoming infected,” he added.
Senator Ajimobi, a cross-section of traditional rulers, and Federal and State government officials attended the event, showing their support for overcoming malaria in the state.
Since 2011, the U.S. government has provided $419 million to control malaria in Nigeria. Over 50 per cent of U.S. funding for malaria goes into procuring and distributing insecticide treated bed nets, malaria diagnostic kits, and malaria medicines. The U.S. also supports advocacy and community mobilisation to sleep under the bed nets every night, training of health workers, and test for malaria before treatment.