The Federal Ministry of Health has launched new national guidelines for implementation of interventions to eliminate malaria and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) in Nigeria.
During the launching in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Health, Prof.C.O.Onyebuchi Chukwu who was represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr. Bridget Okuagwale said that the combined nationwide strategy is the first of its kind in Africa and will allow the Federal and State Ministries of Health to efficiently protect all Nigerians from the two mosquitos transmitted parasitic diseases.
The Minister noted that though these diseases are preventable and treatable, they still constitute major public health problem in the country and a barrier to social and economic development.
He stressed that impact studies have shown that the distribution of long lasting insecticidal treated nets(LLINs) to prevent human mosquito contacts have shown decline of lymphatic filariasis prevalence; adding that the use of community directed approaches by the two programs will help to fast track the process of the elimination of both diseases.
He observed that the newly released guidelines will harness available resources in a cost-effective manner by taking advantage of the mosquito vector shared by malaria and lymphatic filariasis.
Malaria, he said is a potentially fatal mosquito-borne parasitic disease that kills an estimated 655,000 people, mostly children worldwide each year pointing out that Nigeria has the world’s largest malaria burden, containing nearly one-third of the crisis in Africa.
The Health Minister observed that 97 percent of Nigerians are at the risk of contracting the disease and half of the population will have at least one malaria attack per year. It is also the leading cause of clinic attendance and absenteeism in Nigeria; he added.