World Malaria Day is an international observance commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria. Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria. In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children. The roll back Malaria was launched in 1998 bringing together multilateral, bilateral, non-governmental and private organizations. It made a clear pledge to reduce deaths from Malaria by 2010. The National Malaria strategic plan, 2014 – 2020 aimed at ensuring transition from Malaria control to Malaria elimination in Nigeria. Procurement of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets, anti-malarial drugs and test kits are all parts of interventions by the government to tackle Malaria.
As part of the commemoration of the 2023 World Malaria Day, Daughters of Virtue and Empowerment Initiative (DOVENET) participated in the road walk organized by the Ebonyi State Malaria Elimination Program (SMEP) in collaboration with other stakeholders on the 25th of April, 2023 with the theme: “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate and Implement”. The activity aimed at sensitizing the general public on the on measures they should carry out in order to eliminate as well prevent themselves from Mosquito bites as these would help to roll Malaria out of the state.
Before the commencement of the road walk, an opening remark was given by the Ebonyi State Malaria Elimination Program (SMEP) Manager, after which goodwill messages were received by the Commissioner for Environment, the Executive Director of Daughters of Virtue and Empowerment Initiative (DOVENET), the President of the Medical Students Association, the President Malaria Initiative for States (PMI-S), and the President of Medical Women’s Association. The attendance includes representatives from PMI-S, SMEP, Medical Women’s Association, Medical Students Association, AMURT, Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BA-N), Ministry of Environment, Malaria Focal Persons from the LGA, Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunization and Nutrition (ACOMIN), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Abakaliki, and other MDAs including DOVENET.
The 2023 World Malaria Day brought together Medical experts, Malaria elimination partners and other stakeholders who moved in the street of Abakaliki Metropolis spreading the message of Malaria prevention and treatment. The road walk took off from the Old Government House in Abakaliki and proceeded to Vanco Junction, down to Ochudo Park by Spera Ndeo Junction, down through Onwe Road, and back to the Old Government House.
At Vanco junction, the Program Manager for DOVENET Mrs. Joy Eze sensitized the general public on the need for a malaria free society. She encouraged all to visit the hospitals when they experience symptoms of malaria.
At Ochudo Park Abakaliki, the stakeholders took turns to teach the public on measures to mitigate Malaria in their homes urging them to keep their environment clean at all times and to visit the health facilities for lab test before receiving treatment during fever. The State Malaria Elimination Programme (SMEP) Manager, Mr. Lawrence Nwankwo urged the people to sleep under the mosquito Insecticidal treated nets they’ve received during the mass distribution January, February this year. He also encouraged the pregnant women to always go for Ante-Natal Care (ANC) visit to get SP (Sulphadoxine pyrimethamine) and to get free nets to prevent them from getting infected by mosquito bites.
Dr. Ugochukwu Madubueze, the Chairman Medical Women Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State urged the public to keep their environment clean, avoid leaving stagnant water to avoid breeding Mosquitoes. She added that children less than five (5) years of age and pregnant women are more vulnerable to Malaria and so she encouraged the pregnant women to sleep under the Mosquito treated nets to prevent them from getting malaria from mosquito bites.
Dr. Joseph Iruka, a representative of World Health Organization also reiterated on the need for a clean environment which he said helps in rolling back malaria.
The SMEP Manager went further to inform the public that Malaria is gradually going down in Ebonyi State. He said that the 2015 National Malaria Indicator Survey showed that Ebonyi State was at 30% prevalence rate. But that in 2021 National Malaria Indicator Survey, Ebonyi State had gone down by 4% and was at 26% prevalence rate and this means that there is an achievement in rolling back Malaria.
The Chairman of the National Union of Road Workers also expressed gratitude for their visit and pledged that their members will spread the message in their various homes. The team proceeded to the next stop.
At each stop, the team sensitized the general public on the ways to prevent malaria and the need for pregnant women to visit health facilities for safe delivery. The team emphasized the importance of sleeping under a long-lasting insecticide net (LLIN) which helps to reduce the risk of being infected with malaria and the importance of keeping the surroundings clean always. This was done in the English language as well as the local dialect. Using the slogan “Act Now” the participants danced as they sensitized the public.