FG Calls For High-Level Meeting On Rethink Malaria Initiative

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Malaria mosquito

The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans for a high-level meeting slated for May 3, 2024, aimed at advancing the implementation of the Rethink Malaria Initiative.

Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate made this announcement during the commemoration of the 2024 World Malaria Day in Abuja. The day, celebrated annually on April 25th, serves as a reminder of global efforts to combat malaria, with this year’s theme focusing on “Accelerating the fight against malaria for a more equitable world.”

Malaria, a disease transmitted through infected mosquitoes, claims over 600,000 lives annually, with children in sub-Saharan Africa bearing the brunt of its impact. Nigeria, as Africa’s most populous nation, shoulders a significant malaria burden globally.

Citing data from the 2022 Nigeria Malaria Report, which indicates a 55 per cent reduction in malaria death rates and a 26 per cent decrease in incidence between 2000 and 2021, Pate underscored the need for innovative strategies to tackle the disease’s lingering challenges.

The Rethink Malaria Initiative seeks to redefine Nigeria’s approach to malaria control by leveraging new technologies, strengthening healthcare systems, and mobilising resources. The upcoming high-level meeting aims to bring together key stakeholders from government agencies, healthcare organisations, NGOs, and international partners to strategise on effective malaria control and elimination measures.

Pate emphasised the urgency of renewed efforts and collaborative action to address the root causes of malaria, highlighting the meeting’s significance in providing a platform for stakeholders to review progress, share best practices, and identify gaps in current malaria control efforts.

Deputy country representative of WHO, Dr. Alex Chimbaru echoed the importance of collective commitment in accelerating progress against malaria, particularly in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children under five. He highlighted ongoing challenges and expressed optimism about the strides made in malaria control efforts.

Chairman of the 2024 World Malaria Day Planning Committee, Dr. Gbenga Jokodola emphasised the critical need for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of malaria. He stressed the importance of confirming malaria cases through testing and addressing issues such as fake malaria drugs to ensure proper treatment.

CEO of Roll Back Malaria, Dr. Michael Adekunle emphasised the crucial role of accurate data in understanding the extent of malaria cases and advocating for a holistic approach to healthcare. He also highlighted the importance of engaging youth in malaria elimination initiatives and proposed the establishment of a youth force to support community-level efforts.

As Nigeria prepares to host the high-level meeting on the Rethink Malaria Initiative, there is renewed hope for accelerated progress towards malaria control and elimination. With concerted efforts and collaborative action, the country aims to overcome the challenges posed by malaria and move closer to a malaria-free future for all.

Racheal Abujah
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