By Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Eight hundred and fifty thousand children are to be reached by the ongoing malaria chemotherapy in Borno State, the World Health Organisation has revealed yesterday.
The malaria chemotherapy is a seasonal exercise, and the ongoing exercise makes it the fourth in the year.
The ongoing exercise has more than 2, 700 volunteers across seven local government areas of the state.
The fourth cycle of seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaign is underway.
The ongoing exercise is supported by WHO in collaboration with Borno State Ministry of Health to reach more than 850 000 children aged 3 to 59 months with anti-malaria drugs in the concluding cycle of the 2018 campaign for.
The campaign is aimed at reducing the effect of malaria especially among children 3 to 59 months who have been predisposed to mosquito bites in the crisis-torn state.
Speaking to journalists during the exercise in Maiduguri, the WHO Health Emergency Programmes Manager, Dr. Collins Owili, explained that the seasonal malarial chemoprevention campaign was introduced in the state with a view to reducing high child morbidity and mortality rates in children under five years in the state due to malaria.
He said: “In response to the high effectof malaria in North-east region, WHO initiated a seasonal malaria modeling exercise in 2017 aimed at swiftly reducing the toll of malaria by saving 10 000 lives among children under five years in Borno State.”
Owili said the exercise has proven to be effective and that is why we continued with another four cycles this year.
He said it is hoped that lessons learned from the campaign in north-eastern Nigeria can be applied in other emergency settings across the world.
While attesting to the effectiveness of the intervention, Borno State Malaria Programme Manager, Mala Waziri, stated that the effects of malaria in the state has evidently reduced since the exercise was modeled in 2017.
He said: “Although we are yet to conduct an impact assessment of the seasonal malaria chemoprevention exercise in the state, it is evident that the intervention has helped to reduce the incidence of malaria in the household as less cases are reported in the clinics this year compared to previous years.”
According to WHO focal person for malaria prevention in the North-east region, Dr. Ini Nglass, the 4th cycle is the last of the planned malaria campaign for Borno State this year.
“This is the last of the planned cycles of seasonal malaria chemoprevention for the year. Our volunteers are administering anti-malaria drugs, but we hope to also distribute insecticide treated nets, another proven strategy for malaria prevention, next year.
“SMC is a WHO-recommended intervention for children under five living in the Sahel sub-region of Africa. The use of this preventive strategy especially during the peak transmission period (rainy season) has been shown to reduce cases of severe malaria by about 75 per cent,” he stated.