By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
World Health Organization (WHO) said it is supporting the State Ministry of Health to reach more than 850 000 children with anti-malaria drugs in the concluding cycle of the campaign for 2018.
WHO, according to information on its website said more than 2 700 volunteers spread across seven local government areas of Borno state, as the 4th cycle of seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) campaign is set to kick off.
It said the campaign aims to reduce the burden of malaria especially among children 3-59 months who have been predisposed to mosquito bites in the crisis-torn Borno state.
The WHO Health Emergency Programmes Manager, Dr Collins Owili explained that SMC campaign was introduced in Borno state with a view to reducing high child morbidity and mortality rates in children under five in Borno state due to malaria.
“In response to high burden of malaria in north-east Nigeria, WHO initiated a seasonal malaria modelling exercise in 2017 aimed swiftly reducing the toll of malaria by saving 10 000 lives among children under five in Borno state,” Dr Owili said. According to him, “This exercise has proven to be effective and that is why we continued with another four cycles this year. It is hoped that lessons learned from the campaign in north-eastern Nigeria can be applied in other emergency settings across the world”.
SMC is a WHO-recommended intervention for children under five years 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%.
Attesting to the effectiveness of the intervention, Borno state Malaria Programme Manager, Mala Waziri, stated that the burden of malaria in the state has evidently reduced since the exercise was modelled in 2017. “Although, we are yet to conduct an impact assessment of the seasonal malaria chemoprevention exercise in Borno 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 previously.”
The 4th cycle is the last of the planned malaria campaign for Borno state this year. WHO and other partners will continue to emphasize on the need to ensure that the population who have been protected using SMC are prevented from malaria after the campaigns through use of use of Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLIN). Furthermore, WHO will continue to support and facilitate partnership as well as mobilization to support malaria control in Borno state.