Stakeholders in the task of eliminating Malaria by 2020 code named ‘Malaria to Zero’ yesterday in Lagos launched the Private Sector Engagement Strategy against Malaria (PSESM) making a case for the Organised Private Sector to join the movement and save lives of Nigerians and spare the nation of an estimated annual economic loss of $2.4 billion.
The launch of the document in Lagos spare-headed by the Dangote Foundation saw the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, making a passionate appeal to the Private sector operators to help the government out in the efforts at stamping out malaria in Nigeria totally, because the government alone could not succeed without the assistance of the corporate firms.
The collaboration with the OPS, he stated became imperative given that over 30 million insecticide treated net used in Nigeria yearly as well as over 80 per cent of the anti-malaria medicine in the country are imported, hence the need to look inward and get the medications manufactured locally.
Said he; we have engaged in series of advocacy which has yielded results, but advocacy is not enough, many people would have been beaten before coming under the insecticide treated net we need research and we realized we can’t do it alone, that is why we are engaging the private sector.
“We need their discipline and efficiency and in the local production of the medicine because that can generate employment in the country
Nevertheless, The Minister explained that over the last decade, substantial progress has been made in the control of Malaria in Nigeria through significant investment from government and development partners. Also supply and distribution of anti-malaria commodities has increased nationwide.
According to Prof Adewole, over 100 million long-lasting Insecticide treated Net were distributed within the last seven years to protect over 28 million out of the 33 million households in Nigeria.
In his remark, Chairman of the Foundation Aliko Dangote lamented the effect of the malaria scourge to the nation and her economy saying “in addition to direct costs to business and the economy, it indirectly damages the economy through the deterioration of human capital, the loss in saving, investments and tax revenues. This is clearly too high of a cost to society and to the economy.”
Dangote stated that Nigeria’s transition from malaria control to elimination provides a compelling opportunity for Nigeria to reflect on its aspirations, take stock on progress and inspire bold, innovative approaches and complementary public private partnerships to disrupt poor malaria outcomes, adding that the private sector can play an important role in mobilizing domestic resources, capabilities, innovation and advocacy platforms to catalyze progress in achieving Nigeria’s malaria pre-elimination agenda.
To lead by example for the private sector active participation in achieving the task of eradicating malaria from Nigeria, Dangote who is the National Malaria Ambassador said he was committed to using his conglomerate, the Dangote Group of companies, as an example of what companies in Nigeria should be doing.
He then disclosed that henceforth, there will be “malaria education for my staff at all of our business locations, distribution of prevention tools and supplies to our workers in the factories and in the fields.”
Dangote said he co-founded the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), which is focused on mobilizing the private sector, across one coordinated platform, to leverage private sector capabilities, advocacy, innovation and resources to complement government efforts in advancing health outcomes.
Other prominent people he had brought on board according to him includes Mr. Bill Gates and other prominent business leaders in Nigeria including Mr. Jim Ovia (Co-chair), Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede (founder, Access bank), Mr. Herbert Wigwe (CEO, Access bank), Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate (Co-chair), Mrs. Sola David Borha and other companies have joined me in support of PHN.
The foremost entrepreneur then called on more private sector leaders and companies to join the ‘malaria to zero’ campaign to pool resources to have impact at scale that is greater than underlying corporate initiatives against malaria.
Dangote promised that he would continue to use his voice to bring attention to the fight against Malaria, disclosing that he had recently accepted an invitation from Bill Gates and Ray Chambers to join them on the End Malaria Council.
The Strategy document titled “Engaging the Private Sector to Eliminate Malaria in Nigeria was unveiled by all stakeholders including captains of Industries, representatives of health organization agencies, Nigerian Medical Association as well as NGOs in health related works.
The document which highlighted the problems of malaria with statistics and how the private sector can collaborate in eradicating malaria has its mission as to provide equitable, comprehensive, cost effective, efficient and quality malaria control services ensuring transparency, accountability, client satisfaction, community ownership and partnership.
Those present at the unveiling were unanimous on the fact that while the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2014-2020) is a good one, the gains of the past years must be sustained, care must be taken to ensure transition from malaria control to elimination in the country, which of course could only be achieved with adequate collaboration between government and private sector.