Reps task FG to declare state of emergency on malaria scourge

seek Donor Agencies support for supply of DDT spray

The House of Representatives on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on malaria in the country.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Honourable Benjamin Mzondu who observed that over 100 million people at risk of malaria every year in Nigeria.

The House also urged Federal Government to formally apply to the International Federation for the supply of DDT spray which is malaria eradicating pesticide.

In his lead debate, Honourable Mzondu called for urgent need to stem the high indices of malaria occurrences in Nigeria, especially among the vulnerable infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Honourable Mzondu who called for the House intervention lamented that with all the efforts put in place, maintained that the cost of effective malaria treatment is still unaffordable to the poor rural dwellers on whom the burden of malaria is heaviest and has frustrated the effort to control the disease.

He argued that about 50% of the adult population in Nigeria experienced at least one malaria attack yearly, while the under five years children have up to 2 – 4 attacks of malaria annually.

“The House is aware that the PMI Strategy for 2015-2020 takes into account the progress over the past decades and the new challenges that have arisen, including the yearly economic losses due to malaria attack in Nigeria which have been put at N132 billion due to costs of treatment, transport to sources of treatment, loss of man-hours, absenteeism from schools and other indirect costs.

“The House is also aware that in 2011 Nigeria began implementation as a PMI focus country with support to three States of Cross River, Nasarawa, and Zamfara and in 2012, expanded to six more States of Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Kogi, Oyo, and Sokoto while in 2013, it added two more states of Akwa Ibom and Kebbi, bringing the total to 11 States,” he observed.

To this end, the lawmaker craved the indulgence of the House to take a bold stand to ensure malaria treatment in Nigeria becomes free so that no one succumbs to malaria due to lack of funds.

In his intervention, Deputy Speaker, Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase, while appreciating the spirit and passion behind the motion, “wondered what the cost implications would be to make the treatment of all occurrences of malaria-free for all people living in Nigeria.”

In his response, Honourable Mzondu said most malaria drugs that come into Nigeria are subsidized, and with the political will, making the treatment-free can be achieved.

On his part, Hon. Munir Babba Dan-Agundi suggested free treatment to infants and pregnant mothers as a way of starting.

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In his remarks, Hon. Shina Peller tasked Nigerian government to place a premium on the value of lives over the cost of treatment, admonished relevant committee of the House to look into the cost implications and if necessary, recommend taking away funds from other less relevant sectors of the economy and put it into the free malaria treatment proposal.

On his part, Hon. Ibrahim Aliyu called for the establishment of a special fund to take care of the proposed free treatment of malaria for Nigerians.

Also speaking, Honourable Christopher Agibe who proposed a policy re-direction to accommodate the free malaria treatment, underscored the need for eradication of malaria by eliminating mosquitoes as achieved in some countries across the world.

Honourable Agibe also admonished Nigerian government to apply to the international federation for the use of the DDT spray, which is a-malaria eradicating pesticide that had been previously banned for being hazardous to birds, but that the ban was recently lifted.

In his view, Honourable Uzoma Nkem-Abonta who argued that the scourge of malaria is detrimental to Nigerians economically and health-wise accused pharmaceutical companies of conspiracy in their quest to keep making a profit off Nigerians by dwelling mostly on curative and not preventive drugs.

He, therefore, called for a shift of policy to preventive treatment and aid the complete eradication of malaria.

In his brief remarks, Honourable Tobi Okechukwu called for the treatment and cleaning of environments that promote the habitation of mosquitos in order to reduce the incidents of malaria which is the cheapest and fastest means of eradicating the disease.

He also called for better sensitization and orientation of Nigerians to keep their environments clean. He also called for a shift of treatment policy from curative towards preventive.

Also speaking, Minority Leader, Honourable Ndudi Elumelu tasked the present administration to ensure that a healthy nation is achieved whatever the cost, as the electorate voted for leaders who would spare nothing at ensuring a safe, healthy and prosperous nation.

In the bid to achieve the feat, the House urged the Federal Ministry of Health to implement the National Malaria Treatment Policy and ensure that treatment of malaria in all public hospitals is free across the country.

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Wase, mandated the Committee on Health Care Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health, relevant International Organizations and Donor Agencies to ensure that malaria treatment is free in all public hospitals in Nigeria.

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