The age long fight against killer mosquitoes in Sub-Saharan Africa especially in Nigeria, is now taking a more forceful approach as the upscale measures to eradicate the surge of Malaria commissioned by The Global Fund and its partners across the world, has resulted in a 60 percent drop in global malaria death rates since 2000, translating to millions of lives saved.
The sustained measure implemented in Nigeria presently, is the direct distribution of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN) to every households of which residents of Delta State are primed to be the next beneficiaries of the replacement campaign of these free mosquito nets.
The statistical distribution of the free mosquito nets which is facilitated by The Global Fund through the Society for Family Health (SFH) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in collaboration with the National Malaria Eradication Programme (NMEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Delta State Ministry of Health, will be distributing a total of 3.5 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets in Delta State.
Speaking on the modalities for the distribution at an orientation workshop for media personnel on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, the Malaria Project Manager, Dr Francis Onojeta informed that the replacement distribution exercise will involve the use of ICT in order to create sufficient data to track the success of the programme.
Dr Onojeta stressed that the objectives and expectations of the upscale distribution is to create a barrier between man and the vector which actively spreads Malaria at bedtime especially at night, decrying that Nigeria is among the top three African countries ravaged by Malaria deaths.
While urging the media to effectively give support to the distribution campaign, he advised the intended beneficiaries to maintain clean hygiene environment noting that, environmental sanitation should be taken seriously as the natural habitat and breeding grounds of mosquitoes are stagnant waters and water pod leaves around households.
The Project Manager assured that the nets have been treated with insecticidal and can last for three (3) years if handled under the appropriate conditions, adding that the nets should not only be acquired but used as prescribed to avoid mosquito bites, warning that pregnant women and children are more vulnerable to Malaria and should take measures to protect themselves by sleeping under the treated nets.
Also speaking at the event, a Demand Control Officer and representative of the National Malaria Eradication Promgramme, Mr Hope Okoboh disclosed that each household is entitled to a maximum of Four (4) free mosquito nets while the deficit for larger homes were expected to be bought, adding that the nets should be ventilated for 24 hours under shade away from direct sunlight before use.
Mrs Okoboh emphasized that the campaign was intended to achieve 100 percent ownership and corresponding utilization by individuals, stating, the use of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets is an effective tool for Malaria control as it will contribute remarkably to the overall reduction of Malaria prevalence in the country when properly put to use by the beneficiaries.
An overview of the implementation of the Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets distribution in Delta State shows that, the replacement campaign which began on April 20, 2019 will end on June 16, 2019. The state flag-off will be on June 7, 2019 and local governments will do their flag-off on June 8, 2019.
The distribution which will lasts only Five (5) days from June 8-12, can only be accessed by a net card to be presented to each household which will be scanned and noted in the database to ensure actual delivery and prevent multiple collections.
Over 17,000 persons are to be engaged for the distribution programme with more than 1,400 net distribution centers across the state
According to The Global Fund, The fight against malaria is one of the biggest public health successes of the 21st century and Pregnant women and children under age 5 are most at risk, because of their weaker immune systems.
On the malaria situation in Nigeria, the following facts were made known during the workshop, that: Malaria is the most common preventable public health problem in Nigeria yet it takes a lethal toll of 97% of Nigerians especially children under five years of age and pregnant women.
Nigeria accounts for a quarter of malaria burden in Africa. The 2015 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey indicates 27% prevalence AS AGAINST 42% IN 2010. Evidence has shown that Nigeria accounts for nearly 110million clinically diagnosed cases per year, and an estimated 30% of child and 11% of maternal deaths each year are due to malaria.
It is the commonest cause of absenteeism from schools, offices, farms, markets, etc resulting to lower productivity. In addition to the direct health also it exerts a huge social and economic burden on our communities and country, Billions of Naira are lost to malaria annually in form of treatment cost, prevention and loss of man hours. N480 billion lost annually due to malaria absenteeism & treatment costs.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the best opportunity for scaling-up malaria prevention is the use of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs). These nets are designed to maintain utmost biological efficacy against mosquitoes for three years, particularly where they are used under recommended conditions.
Highlighting the benefits of sleeping inside a Net, it was disclosed that: Sleeping inside the net protects you from mosquito that spread malaria. Sleeping inside the net ensures sound and undisturbed sleep. It is easier/cheaper to hang the net than to treat malaria. You gain health, save life and save money when you hang and sleep inside the net.
On how do I use my nets correctly the officials urged the people to: Air the LLIN under the shade (not under the SUN) for one day (24 hours) before USE. Hang the nets up over your sleeping material which could be a mat or mattress or bed, etc. Tuck in the edges of the nets under the mat or mattress ensuring that no space could permit entrance of mosquitoes. Repeat this tucking in anytime you happen to leave your sleeping area. Lie inside the net in your sleeping area and enjoy your sleep free of mosquito bites and/or disturbance. Do not use the net as a cover cloth or as a wrapper/blanket and Roll the net up in the morning to prevent tearing and damage.
Can anything happen if I do not use my net correctly? Many people have complained of: Skin itching and rashes, Redness of skin and Redness of eye. The discomfort is temporary and will clear within a short time (few hours/days)
It feels hot when I sleep under the net. What do I do? Keep your windows open for fresh air to reduce heat and Dress lightly, Feeling of discomfort will reduce as you continue to use the net and Remember to use your net even if you sleep outside.
My net has an unpleasant smell. What do I do, Where can I get a net? During the LLIN campaign, the LLINs are giving out free on the basis of 1 net to every 2 persons in a household. If the free nets are not adequate to meet the needs of your household members, you may need to buy extra nets. LLINs are available in hospitals, pharmacies, PMVs, chemists and markets. Pregnant women attending ANC and children under 5 completing immunization may receive free nets from the Government health facilities and Nets are affordable and cheaper than costs of treating malaria. Protect yourself from mosquito bites and save hospital cost.