From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Sharp practices such as diversion and proxy deliveries of the free malaria commodities and poor funding on the part of the government have been identified as top threats to development partners’ investments in malaria eradication in Nigeria especially in Kaduna state, Northwest Nigeria.
It is on record that as the giant of Africa in terms of economy and over 200 million populace, Nigeria loses its pregnant women and under-five children to malaria scourge more than any other country in Sub-Saharan Africa the sad reality that has attracted global attention and investments to see how that unpleasant reality could be ameliorated especially as it affects pregnant women and under-five children.
In a message to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day with the theme “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives”, Regional Director, World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said on Monday via her Twitter handle that malaria remains a significant public health and development challenge with about 95 per cent estimated 228 million cases occurring in the WHO and AFRO Region,
One of the critical development partners in malaria eradication globally is the Global Fund which said it has provided 56% of all international financing for malaria programs (39% of total available resources) and has invested more than US$16 billion in malaria control programs as of April 2022.
Unarguably, without these interventions, malaria deaths would have increased significantly in the affected countries and regions over the years, especially with the weak annual budgetary provision by the government.
Accordingly, the Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Agency (KADCHMA) latest statistics showed that malaria remains the biggest health issue in the state based on how frequent its enrollees visit the over 400 approved healthcare facilities spread across the 23 local government areas of the state except for Birnin Gwari LG due to security threat.
Speaking with Daily Sun in Kaduna on Monday, Program Officer, Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunization and Nutrition (ACOMIN) on the Global Fund Malaria Commodity-led Monitoring Project in Kaduna State, Mr Ogidi Nicodemus, lamented that some unscrupulous individuals within the health sector in Kaduna State are bent on sabotaging efforts to eradicate malaria in the state without commensurate punishment from the state government to serve as a deterrent.
According to ACOMIN, the issue of proxy distribution has reduced since “we call on the organisation involved”.
“One of the challenges that persist is sharp practices around distributed free malaria commodities (drugs and mosquito nets for example) with NOT FOR SALE written on them.
“We are not happy that this is still happening despite several calls on the state government and when we say government, we mean State Malaria Eradication Programme (SMEP) which is saddled with malaria activities in the state.
“Poor funding on the part of the state government is another big issue. If you meet SMEP today, they will tell you the state government has budgeted millions to procure and distribute malaria drugs and other commodities.
“We have been hearing this since 2019 but we have not seen these drugs and other commodities being procured as we were been told year in year out”, he decried.
He then called on the responsible health authority in the state to increase funding for malaria activities beyond mere budgeting without releases and cashback to implement malaria programmes.
“We want to see concerted efforts put in place by the state government to punish the offenders and one way to do that is to be tracking the batch identity number of supplied malaria commodities so we can track them to patient stores to check diversion. This is a part of the recommendations the partners have given. But as partners, we can only recommend, we don’t have the powers to enforce.
“On our part as civil society, it is our responsibility to demand accountability for malaria commodities. Since we started this project, we have been given them feedback but they are not acting”, he added.