From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday flagged off the distribution of five million insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN) to safeguard the health of at least 10million residents of the state against malaria.
The flag-off ceremony was held at the International Conference Centre, the University of Ibadan, which also had partners in attendance, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), and Breakthrough Action-Nigeria (BA-N). The five million nets are to replace over four million nets distributed in the state in 2016, with funding from United States Government through US President’s Malaria Initiative.
Highlights of the ceremony included investiture of Secretary to Oyo State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, as an ambassador for insecticide-treated bed nets, which was received on her behalf by Special Adviser to Governor Makinde on Health, Dr Funmi Salami, as the distribution of the bed nets to the public would take place from 18th to 26th of August, this year, especially for people with net cards.
Governor Makinde, who was represented by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Abdul-Majeed Mogbonjubola, in his address on the occasion held ahead of World Mosquito Day, which comes up on Friday, August 20, noted that malaria is still a public health challenge in Nigeria and Oyo State, adding that “it seriously challenges the health care needs of women and children in our communities, especially at the grassroots.
‘This net distribution process is expected to increase awareness of communities on the appropriate knowledge, attitude and skills in preventing malaria caused by mosquito bites. This will further improve the health of mothers and children, by reducing morbidity and mortality across communities,’ he said.
The governor, while acknowledging and appreciating the supports for the government by development partners, said the nets ‘are actually a measure to prevent malaria, which should reduce the burden of malaria on the economy of the state and our health care systems. I will reassure you that the state will intensify efforts in improving the healthcare-seeking behaviour of the populace and give the right message and information needed on the use of insecticide-treated nets.’
USAID Senior Health Advisor Ms Celeste Carr, in her goodwill message, described malaria as a cause of sickness and death in Nigeria, particularly during the peak of the rainy season, during which the population of mosquitoes usually increase geometrically.
‘The nets of USAID that we are donating today will help Oyo State reach its goal of one net for every two persons. We are working with the state Ministry of Health and other partners to ensure that these five million nets are handed over to household members across all the 33 Local Government Areas of Oyo State. This is a massive undertaking,’ she said.
Carr stated further that special attention in the ongoing campaign is being paid to pregnant women and children under five years who are at the higher risk of contracting malaria from mosquito bites, encouraging all health workers to routinely provide a net to a pregnant woman during her first trimester visits to protect her and the baby from malaria.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health in the state, Dr Mufutau Ayoola, noted that since the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde came on board on May 29, 2019, it has been ensuring that there is universal health coverage in the state, and has also created a conducive atmosphere for development partners to assist the state.