Nigeria’s head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, launched an initiative in Abuja aimed at ending malaria by the end of the decade.
The Nigeria End Malaria Council (NEMC, Malaria Eradication Council), was born on August 16, 2022 at the Presidential Palace, Abuja in the presence of the host of the venue, Muhammadu Buhari and many dignitaries from the world of politics and business.
Notable among the latter is Aliko Dangote, appointed by the Nigerian head of state to chair the council, who justifies the choice by the businessman’s many involvements in health causes on the continent. In line with the African Union’s mission, Africa’s richest man leads the council, which includes fifteen other members that aim to end malaria by 2030.
Malaria is caused by the bite of a mosquito carrying Plasmodium – the group of parasites that cause the disease – on the African continent, particularly in the sub-Saharan region. According to WHO’s 2021 report, six countries account for 55% of the entire planet’s cases.
Leading the most affected countries, Nigeria accounts for 26.8% of cases in 2020. The country also recorded the highest mortality rate at 31.9%. This is more than double that of the Democratic Republic of Congo (13.2%), the second most affected country, where children under five and pregnant women are most affected.
These figures, from earlier WHO data, testify to the ongoing challenge of malaria on the African continent.
According to President Buhari, the council is to assist the Nigerian government mainly in mobilizing the necessary resources to defeat the disease.
In line with the National Anti-Malaria Plan 2021- 2025, the Nigerian Head of State has estimated that 1.89 billion Naira will be needed to initially reduce the transmission rate to 10% over the next four years.
“This echoes my current role as Nigeria’s ambassador for malaria control and my foundation’s work in mobilizing the private sector against the disease in Africa.”Aliko Dangote said.
The Nigerian initiative comes less than a year after WHO officially recommended the widespread use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. The landmark WHO recommendation, due in October 2021, is based on the results of a pilot program launched in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in 2019 that reached more than 800,000 children.
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