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NGO FIGHTS MALARIA AT GRASSROOTS

By NBF News

The fight against eradication of malaria parasites in Cross River State continued as the Ministry of Health/Roll Back Malaria in collaboration with donor agencies and non-governmental organisations, NGOs, took the campaigns to the grassroots. In December 2008, the Roll Back Malaria, Association of Civil Society Organisations(ACOMIN)and international donor agencies including Canadian Red Cross and USAID/Net Mart) came up with an integrated child health campaign targeting about 500, 000 children under five years of age covering every community.

The campaign included free measles and polio vaccination, Vitamin A supplementation and distribution of Long Lasting Insecticides treated Nets. (LLINs), to prone villages and homes. The strategy was to provide a net for each under-five child and pregnant women that was vaccinated at any of the campaign vaccination posts and over 676, 000 LLINs were distributed across 14 local government areas.

Leading the ambitious campaign, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Cross River State, Dr. Iyam Ughot, said the state has the highest coverage and utilization of LLINs for malaria prevention of any state in Nigeria as 86 per cent of households own at least one LLIN and use of mosquito nets by children under-five and pregnant women, the most vulnerable groups, exceed 60 per cent.

Ughot maintained that with support from USAID and in partnership with the Nigeria Red Cross, it has trained 36 Roll Back Malaria officers, 214 supervisors and 3,200 volunteers' mostly community-based organizations. He added that these volunteers have been going from house to house registration and nets needs as well as undertaking visits to assist families in hanging their nets and ensuring that all nets distributed are being used.

According to Ughot, popularly called 'the malaria fighter', he said 'Roll Back Malaria is a social movement committed to improving the productivity and income of the poor family and taking development to rural communities by ensuring a malaria-free healthy people.'

Lending its support to the war against malaria at rural communities, a national network, the Association of Civil Society Organisations (ACOMIN) has embarked on social mobilization activities for the regional sector to sensitize the communities and various women groups.

The association's acting Chairman, Elder Effiong Udobong, said that the association during the mobilization exercise for LLNs early this year distributed hang up /keep up and prompt treatment with Artemicine Combination Therapy, ACT,s and IPT using the religious groups, adding that the consistent use of long lasting insecticide treated nets remains an effective way of preventing malaria.

Udobong listed other interventionist activities at the communities to include distribution of at least two nets per house hold this year; advocating for early registration at the nearest health facility for the administration of the drugs and environmental management.

Statistics made available to Daily Sun show that Cross River State has been ranked in terms of mobilizing communities and taking malaria treatment and insecticides treated bed nets to virtually every home. Through the home management of malaria (HHM) community based health providers and some role model mothers are trained and equipped to recognize and deliver malaria treatment promptly at community level.