I read this piece on Guardian Newspaper earlier today (25/4/2012) and decided to post it for the reading ‘pleasure’ of my blog visitors:
“AFRICA has been declared as making significant progress in the fight against measles. In the last 10 years, the continent was reported to have cut down deaths from measles by 85 per cent.
The statistics in Africa’s impressive crusade against the disease spread and death from the scourge, are contained in a report released yesterday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
And ahead of the global celebration of World Malaria Day today, stakeholders have called for sustained funding of all initiatives to kick out the disease from Nigeria.
The stakeholders, who included the National Coordinator of National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr. Chioma Amajoh, Family Care Association (FCA), and ExxonMobil Foundation, declared that only concerted efforts by both the government and private bodies could ensure that the gains recorded by the Roll Back Malaria initiative were not lost.
The new report on measles published yesterday in the Lancet, the world’s leading general medical and speciality journal in oncology, neurology and infectious diseases, noted that through increased routine coverage and large-scale immunisation campaigns, “Africa made the most progress with an 85 per cent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010.”
It said using a state-of-the-art methodology, accelerated efforts to reduce measles deaths have resulted in a 74 per cent reduction in global measles mortality, from an estimated 535,300 deaths in 2000 to 139, 300 in 2010.
Also, the partners leading efforts to control measles announced a new global strategy aimed at reducing measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero.
The Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, said: “A three-quarter drop in measles deaths worldwide shows just how effective well-run vaccination programmes can be. Now we need to take the next logical step and vaccinate children against rubella, too.”
WHO said since 2001, the Measles Initiative had supported developing countries to vaccinate over one billion children against measles. And in keeping with the new Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan to control and eliminate measles and rubella, the initiative has been renamed Measles and Rubella Initiative. Measles and rubella elimination go hand-in-hand as measles and rubella vaccines are routinely combined in a single shot.
The report underscored that progress in reducing measles deaths was especially strong from 2001 to 2008. However, when investment and political commitment to measles control faltered in 2008 and 2009, many children were not immunised. Measles came roaring back and caused large outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. In 2010, an estimated 19 million infants – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia – did not receive measles vaccine.
The report added that these outbreaks combined with a delayed start in intensifying measles control in India, meant that the goal of 90 per cent reduction in measles mortality by end 2010 compared with 2000 levels was not met. India accounted for about 47 per cent of global measles deaths in 2010. In addition, target dates for measles elimination in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean and European regions had to be revised.
Meanwhile, the plan to make the most potent anti-malarial drugs affordable by most Nigerians is allegedly being threatened by lack of funds.
The Federal Government through the NMCP planned to bring down the prices of WHO-approved Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) from N1,000 to N75 under the Affordable Medicines Facility Malaria (AMFM) project.
The Guardian learnt that in 2011, about 70 million treatment courses of ACTs were planned for procurement and delivery under AMFM. Of this, only about 38 million courses were bought and distributed to end-users.
National Co-ordinator of NMCP, Dr. Chioma Amajoh, told The Guardian that the 70 million treatment courses of ACTs represent more than 50 per cent of what was planned and considering the fact that it was the first procurement under the facility, it is a huge success and lessons learnt will be applied to overcome observable challenges in the supply chain processes.
This year’s World Malaria Day, with the theme: “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria,” Family Care Association and ExxonMobil Foundation warned that failure to adequately fund the project, would make the pursuit of the near-zero deaths from Malaria by 2015 impossible.
They said that achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health would be unrealistic.
As part of activities to mark the day, the two groups plan to train 300 medical personnel and community health workers on current issues on malaria diagnosis, treatment and control in Plateau, Kogi, and Lagos states this month.
The organisations have also concluded plans to hold free malaria screening tests and treatment at the Family Care Unit, Ikota Medical Centre, Lekki, Lagos, and distribute Long Lasting Insecticide-treated mosquito nets during the Nigeria Malaria Control and Prevention Programmes (NMCPP) campaign”.
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