Home Lifestyle Health The distribution of Mosquito nets is helping to combat Nigeria’s malaria crisis

The distribution of Mosquito nets is helping to combat Nigeria’s malaria crisis

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Nigeria’s malaria strategy depends heavily on foreign funding but local organisations are doing the legwork.

An estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 deaths were recorded globally in 2020, according to the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report 2021.

Nigeria performed the worst on both counts, recording the highest percentage of cases (27%) and deaths (31.9%) than anywhere else across the entire world.

The country is estimated to have recorded 64.7 million malaria cases, and 199,689 deaths. A majority of those affected were children under the age of 5.

Estimated malaria cases in Nigeria in the past 10 years

Malaria, a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, is preventable and treatable, but it has become so endemic in Nigeria that it is regarded as a way of life, hence not treated with as much alarm needed to reduce severe incidents that can lead to death.

A great number of Nigerians are very likely to self-diagnose and self-medicate when they notice the tell-tale symptoms of malaria, and this can complicate efforts to effectively combat its prevalence.

Estimated malaria deaths in Nigeria in the past 10 years

When the Society for Family Health (SFH) started its malaria intervention in 2003, its immediate concern was for people to have easy access to treatment options, and prevent severe cases and deaths.

The NGO, founded in 1983, quickly commenced with the provision of pre-packaged treatment for vulnerable groups, a project supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The project involved distributing commodities to the private sector, especially Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) who usually are the first point of contact in local communities.

Vendors were trained and provided with quality malaria treatment and diagnostic knowledge.

Community pharmacists, and private clinics were also trained and provided with Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs), rapid diagnostic test kits, microscopes, job aids, and behaviour change communication materials to better render quality services.

Distribution of malaria cases by country in 2020 [WHO]

For a country with a dreadful malaria crisis on its hand, Nigeria relies heavily on external funding for programmes to eliminate it, or lessen the burden significantly.

The biggest donor is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria which has disbursed $287.2 million to Nigeria between 2018 and 2020 alone, and disbursed more than $50 billion across over 155 countries since 2002.

The Project Management Institute, USAID, World Bank, and the United Kingdom have similarly disbursed a combined $271.2 million on malaria intervention programmes in Nigeria over the past three years alone.

Admittedly, Nigeria is also a donor to the Global Fund, donating $38.79 million over the past 20 years [TGF]

More than 157 million of Nigeria’s estimated 206 million population stand at high risk of malaria, a figure that should inspire dread.

The distribution of insecticide treated nets (ITNs), more commonly called mosquito nets, is one of the core vector control interventions in the WHO’s bid to prevent infection and reduce malaria transmission.

Over the years, SFH’s malaria intervention has evolved from a combination of strategies, to now majorly focus on mass net distribution campaigns over the past five years.

Global Fund started partnering with the NGO in 2007 and is now its key donor in the net distribution programme that is implemented in 13 states across Nigeria.

Before a mass ITN campaign is implemented, SFH conducts micro planning that involves visiting a state to get actual population data for all communities which will translate to the actual quantity of nets needed for 100% coverage.

The data obtained includes a list of the communities and their corresponding population, distribution points, amongst other deliverables.

These data points are used with some basic assumptions to obtain the needed personnel that will be involved in the distribution of the nets.

On the average, a regular-sized state can require a minimum of 7,000 health workers and adhoc personnel, while bigger states like Kano have in the past required as many as 29,000.

“This is a huge process and we can liken it to a census or an election because this happens in all the Local Government Areas, wards, and communities of every state,” Christopher Dangana, Senior Manager Procurement and Supply, SFH Global Fund Malaria Project, tells Pulse.

SFH’s net distribution campaigns normally take between 12 days to 14 days depending on the coverage area and quantity of the nets [SFH]