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FG advocates private sector investment to tackle malaria

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Steve Agbota

The Federal Government has called on the organised private sector to join forces to tackle malaria in Nigeria, through provision of investments, as Nigeria’s economy loses $1.1 billion each year due to malaria-related absenteeism in the workplace and treatment costs.

Speaking at a forum in Lagos, organised by Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA), as part of activities to mark the World Malaria Day, on Wednesday, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the private sector plays an integral role in combating malaria in Nigeria.

The minister said there are four keys areas where the private sector can be influential to include innovation, policy, implementation and financing.

He said companies have been successful in shaping malaria policies; impacting communities through workplace initiatives, product and service innovations, advocacy, research and investment.

He also said the coming year would be a period of great opportunity for businesses to contribute to rapid acceleration of the rate of progress in the global war against malaria. 

“Success will require transparency from all partners, concerted efforts to address system challenges and a continued effort in eliminating the scourge. 

“The federal government is working on primary healthcare system to build up the national healthcare system and part of it is based on the National Health Act and the basic healthcare provision fund, which is to facilitate setting up healthcare, down to the grassroots.”

Meanwhile, Head, Sustainability, Access Bank Plc, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, said substantial malaria control investments have been made in Nigeria within the last decade.

However, despite gains achieved, Victor-Laniyan said there are still considerable challenges in addressing the burden of disease and key performance indices are still below expectations.

She said accelerating investment in malaria in Nigeria and Africa will prevent more than 80 million illnesses and more than 300,000 related deaths annually.

Adding that ending malaria will increase school attendance, boost worker productivity and significantly lower out-of-pocket cost for treatment.

President, GBC Health, Nancy Wildfeir-Field, said funding for malaria globally is only at 41 per cent of its 2020 target of $6.5 billion yet almost half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria. The disease remains a major public health challenge, especially in Africa, which bears nearly 90 per cent of the global share of malaria cases and accounts for 91 per cent of malaria death.

She said Nigeria accounts for the highest number of cases and deaths from malaria in sub-saharan Africa. She noted that there is strong rationale for the private sector to play a role in shaping health markets in Africa and in particular in malaria with direct impact on the workforce, stating that investment is vital.

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