SPECIAL REPORT: Gov. Bello flags off Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention To Reduce Prevalence In Children

By Amuda Dan Sulaiman Fab

The Kogi State Ministry of Health in collaboration with Malaria Consortium, have flagged off the 2023 Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC), aimed at zero malaria prevalence in children under age five in the state.

Gov. Yahaya Bello, who flagged off the program on Wednesday at Government Lokoja, reiterated his Administration’s commitment to a considerable reduction in malaria incidence in children less than five years as well as pregnant women.

Represented by his Deputy, Chief Edward Onoja, the governor promised to continue to strengthen routine healthcare service delivery geared towards improving the health of women and children in Kogi, which were largely covered by the ‘Bello Care Initiative’.

The governor noted that the State Government had signed an MoU with Malaria Consortium the sole implemental of SMC, who commenced mass distribution of malaria preventive drugs in the state in 2021.

He added that the SMC was piloted in nine local government areas (LGAs) in 2021, and was scaled up to cover all the 21 LGAs in 2022 due to the huge success recorded in reducing malaria burden in children under five years.

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He stressed that the effort had drastically reduced malaria burden in children under five years from 25 to 16 per cent according to the recent Malara Indicator Survey (MIS).

The governor, therefore urged all the Executive Chairmen of the 21 LGAs in Kogi to accord the necessary support to ensure the success of the program across the state

Bello equally implored the traditional and religious leaders, NGOs and other critical stakeholders to sentise and mobilise the people to ensure that children within the age group benefitted from the program.

Earlier, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Zakari Usman, appreciated the governor for creating the enabling environment for the conduct of this year’s SMC in Kogi.

Dr. Usman stressed that the governor’s efforts on the SMC with other loudable health interventions had resulted in the great achievements among others.

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“With the continued support of His Excellency, I believe malaria will be reduced to its barest minimum in Kogi State”, he said.

The commissioner noted that Kogi Ministry of Health in collaboration with Malaria Consortium had commenced training of state personnel who would cascade same to others at local government and community levels for the purpose of this year’s SMC exercise.

The commissioner disclosed that the State Government’s target for this year’s SMC exercise was to administer the drugs to about 1.2 million children between the age of three to 59 months.

“This year, the state have already received five trailer loads of these drugs at the Central Store for distribution to all the 713 Health Facilities offering this SMC across the state.

“The drugs are free and safe. As such, any patent medicine store/vendor caught selling the drug will face the wrath of the law.

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“I urge all the personnel engaged in this life saving assignment to be dedicated and committed to the task”, the commissioner said.

Also speaking, the State Programme Coordinator, Malaria Consortium, Pharm. Kenneth Maduka, said over 14000 volunteers had been engaged to carry out the SMC exercise for effective service delivery.

Maduka noted that the drugs had been proven to effectively reduce malaria deaths in children about 70 to 80 per cent.

On his part, the Executive Director, Kogi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (KSPHCDA), Dr Abubakar Yakubu, commended the state government and other partners, saying the efforts would drastically reduce malaria prevalence in the state.

In their goodwill messages, the Representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and other partners, assured Kogi Government of their continuous support for a successful SMC exercise across the state.

 

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