BY UBON EKANEM, CALABAR – The Breakthrough Action Nigeria, an initiative of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria has blamed the current upsurge in malaria related cases in the country on the rampaging effect of mosquito bites and poor sanitation conditions within many communities.
And as a way of preventing malaria outbreak, Representative of the programme, Amina Kato says Nigerians must embrace mosquito nets’ usage because sleeping inside treated nets remains the safest method of kicking out malaria from the country.
Speaking at a three-day Thematic Technical Training workshop for media representatives in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, Kato, who provided an update on the Agency’s activities in Nigeria as it relates to malaria prevention, said from available statistics, though a significant reduction has been recorded in the percentage of malaria related cases among infants, ownership of mosquito nets and sleeping inside them still remains the safest option for Nigerian families.
Kato gave a breakdown of mosquito net ownership among selected states in the country, pointing out that Ebonyi State currently tops the list with 84 percent, followed closely by Cross River with 70 percent, while Oyo and Akwa Ibom remain at par with 57 per cent on the chart.
She hinted that BreakThrough Action Nigeria is deploying intensive advocacy campaign on important steps and measures to take in preventing malaria as well as the success story recorded so far on mosquito net usage.
The activist therefore urged media organizations to synergize and collaborate with the Agency on the project through sensitizing the public and creating awareness on the importance of using mosquito nets across the country.
She however acknowledged that there is an urgent need for behavioural change toward malaria prevention given that certain cultural norms and traditional practices still view the usage of mosquito nets with misconceptions.
According to her, it has become imperative for media organizations to constantly engage the public and highlight the numerous risks associated with contracting malaria, especially during pregnancy as the severity can be highly harmful if proper diagnosis is not done and preventive treatment carefully administered from the early stages of pregnancy.