By Bukar Bolori
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with Borno State government has commenced administering malaria prevention drugs on two million children.
The WHO said in Maiduguri on Saturday during the flag off of this year seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention Campaigns (MPCs), that two million children between the age 3-59 months are targeted in 25 of the 27 local governments of the state.
WHO revealed that Abadam and Marte are excluded from the ongoing campaign due to inaccessibility brought about by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Speaking during the flag-off of the exercise, the WHO National Cordinator Malaria Emergencies in Nigeria, Dr. Iniabasi Nglas, said the seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaign is not only done in Borno, but across other eight Sahel states of Yobe, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa and Kano.
She noted malaria being the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria, and Borno not left out, coupled with Boko Haram insurgency, a lot of children have missed the opportunity of getting proper healthcare services.
She said: “And in these part of the country, peak rainfall last three to four months and seasonal malaria Chemoprevention campaign which is being flagged off is to protect the Sahel areas. Within these three to four months when there is peak malaria incidences and prevalence.
“The programme is scheduled to happen during the peak rainfall to protect children between the age of 3 months to 59 months from malaria sickness. The programme is not only done here , but in other eight states in the country.
“Borno happened to be one of the states, but in Borno, WHO is taking the lead working with Borno state government with support from Global Fund. We are going to do this programme for five days, but each child will get a drug the first day, after that, the second and the third day doses are handed over to caregivers or parents and guided on what to do.”
Also speaking at the flag-off, the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Garbai Elkanemi, urged WHO to extend the excercise to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities where children are more vulnerable.
The paramount traditional ruler appealed to parents to avail their children the opportunity provided by WHO to prevent them falling ill to malaria.
Borno state governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, who was represented by his deputy, Usman Kadafur said: “It is expected that the anti-malaria drug administrators will be visiting households to administer the first dose of the drug. This is with the hope to reduce the trend of illness caused by malaria in Borno state.
“Malaria is one of the major child killer diseases and I will appeal to residents to bring out their children and wards, and cooperate with health workers in the administration of drugs.”
He added that: “Our hands are open to any organisation willing to bring this kind of gesture to our people. We will collaborate with them.”