BY FIDELIS AKAHOMEN, Abuja

The National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), has said that almost 13 million eligible children in 9 states were reached with the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC), a preventive measure targeting children between 3 and 59 months of age within the Sahel region.

The National Coordinator, NMEP, Dr. Audu Bala Mohammed, In his remarks at the 2nd 2020 Bi-annual Media Chat, yesterday in Abuja, tagged “Delivering Malaria Intervention in the context of COVID-19: How NMEP has fared”, said the entire nine states targeted in the SMC initiative were covered.
The states include Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

According to Mohammed, “available records from the district health information system (DHIS)showed a monthly average of 2,241,653 fever cases that reported at the health facilities nationally, of which 1,988,254 (88%) were tested. Of the tested cases, 1,468,110 cases were positive and 1,447,233 (99%) of these were treated with anti-malarias.”

” Correspondingly, in 2019 the records indicated a monthly national average of 2,337,794 fever cases that reported at the health facilities of which 2,117,783 (91%) were tested, and of the 1,645,770 that were positive 1,543,789 (94%) were treated with anti-malarials, which represented a slightly higher number of fever and malaria cases seen in 2019 compared to 2020.” he added.

Speaking on Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), the Mohammed said: “We had planned to replace in the year 2020 over 31.5 million insecticide treated nets (ITNs) to cover 56.7 million people across eleven states of Adamawa, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Enugu, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kwara, Oyo, Plateau, Osun, and Zamfara. Except for States without donor support, which include Bayelsa, Borno, Enugu and FCT.”
He however noted that apart from Oyo, all other States were covered, with some having coverage of over 95% of those targeted. He further pointed COVID- 19 related issues as the reason why Oyo State was not covered.
Over 17 million ITNs were distributed in these six states, Mohammed said.
On challenges, the National Coordinator identified stigma and fear that tended to hinder individuals from attending health facilities as part of the challenges.
He further said that: “Abiding by preventive guidelines motorists decreased number of passengers and increased the transport fares further alienating some who could not afford the charges.”
“Health workers required additional resources to protect themselves from COVID-19, and where these were not adequate they had to limit access to patients especially at the height of the pandemic. The lock-down, while it lasted, further compounded access to interventions. Supplies of commodities suffered severe disruptions with several health facilities experiencing stock-outs for relatively long times.”

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