Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Friday in Akure flagged off the distribution of 2.9 million long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets to residents of the state.
Akeredolu, who was represented by Dr Jibayo Oyewole, the Special Adviser on Health Matters to the governor, noted that malaria still remained a major public health problem in Nigeria despite preventable measures.
He said that malaria constituted a major economic burden in the country because about N148 billion was lost annually in the form of treatment cost and prevention.
According to him, statistics have shown that more than 60 per cent of hospital attendance was due to malaria and three out of every 10 admission beds were due to malaria.
The governor said that the critical elements needed to achieve positive change in fight against malaria was the change in behavioural and social norms with regards to sleeping inside treated mosquito nets.
“The ownership and use of the nets has remained the most cost effective and easily deployed methods for malaria prevention.
“Significant reduction in malaria related deaths and disability over the years have been attributed to the massive promotion of the ownership and use of the nets,” he said.
The governor said the distribution of the nets was to ensure universal coverage of the populace in the state.
Similarly, the governor’s wife, Mrs Betty Ayanwu-Akeredolu, said malaria infection still posed a great threat to health and socio-economic wellbeing of many Nigerians.
Ayanwu-Akeredolu stressed the need for concerted efforts to fight malaria.
The governor’s wife, who was honoured as net ambassador in the state by the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), encouraged the people to use the nets correctly so that there would be effectiveness of the campaign.
She said nobody should sell the nets because some organisations and government paid for them.
“These nets do not come free, but a lot of funds have gone into it; therefore let us use the nets for what they are meant for and not for fishing but sleeping inside them after hanging for 24 hours.
“I have committed myself for Ondo State that is free of malaria and if we all make concerted efforts, we will create the Ondo State we deserve and history will not forget us,” she said.
Mrs Rebecca Bassey, the representative of Catholic Relief Services, said that over 16.5 million nets were being distributed in six states in Nigeria, Ondo State being one of them.
Bassey noted that the state had demonstrated itself to be a dependable and reliable partner, considering its show of love for giving safe and conducive environment for the campaign.
She added that the exercise would no doubt contribute immensely to collective efforts towards eliminating malaria from the state and Nigeria in general.
“National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health and CRS with funding from Global Fund are distributing over 16.5million nets in six states in Nigeria including Ondo State,” she said.
According to her, CRS has been implementing programme in Nigeria for over 17 years.