The Nigeria LNG Limited has kicked off an initiative in partnership with the United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) to kick out malaria in Nigeria.
The initiative is focused on reducing malaria-related mortality by 50 percent across 24 high-burden developing countries, including Nigeria, through four highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures.
Nigeria may one day be declared malaria-free. The country is now polio-free after years of an intensive campaign against the ailment. The journey that may earn the country malaria-free status is being championed by the Nigeria LNG Limited and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Since charity begins at home, the project is kicking off in Bonny Island, the home of NLNG’s multibillion dollars plants.
In March, NLNG signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the USAID to make Bonny Island, its operational base, malaria-free.
The MoU was signed in Abuja by NLNG Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Tony Attah United States Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard.
The United States through its President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) will provide technical assistance to the NLNG-led Bonny Island Malaria Elimination Project (BNYMEP). BNYMEP seeks to reduce the malaria burden, move the community to pre-elimination status, bring malaria-related mortality to zero, and make Bonny Island Nigeria’s first malaria-free zone.
The PMI is focused on reducing malaria-related mortality by 50 per cent across 24 high-burden developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria and three Southeast Asian countries, through a rapid scale-up of four proven and highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures. PMI techniques include insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs); indoor residual spraying (IRS); accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs); and intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp).
The NLNG, said Attah, commenced the BNYMEP in January 2019 as part of its vision to transform Bonny Island into tourism and economic hub in West Africa. He added that a malaria-free zone was key to attracting investments to the Island.
Attah said: “We are ready to put Bonny Island on the map as one the first malaria-free community in Nigeria and a reference point in the global eradication of the disease. Malaria has impacted negatively on health care in Nigeria, and it is time to change the narrative. It is time to free ourselves of the economic burden that this scourge has imposed on us for years, freeing available resources to tackle other issues and to attain more Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs). We hope to set precedence with a workable model for private sector participation in SDGs’ achievement. These goals align with our vision of helping to build a better Nigeria.”
Bonny’s location, Attah observed, exposes it to mosquitoes. The Island is a wetland in the rainforest and is bordered by the Atlantic.
Nigeria, the NLNG boss said, is critical to attaining the global targets for the elimination of malaria because it is a densely populated country in the rainforest. The current National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP) 2021 -2025, he added, aimed to attain pre-elimination status and reduction of malaria-related death to zero.
“Nigeria LNG is aligned to that aspiration and would support laudable initiatives that would make Bonny Island and its communities to become Nigeria’s first malaria-free zone. To achieve this goal, we are going into this partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S Centre for Disease Control and Prevention,” Attah said.
He said the initiative aimed to bring Bonny close to the Zanzibar experience of near-zero malaria prevalence.
Ambassador Leonard said eliminating malaria in Bonny was within reach, adding that: “This partnership moves us closer to achieving those goals. I commend the efforts of NLNG to meet its social responsibility in helping the economic climate of Bonny Island by improving the health of its residents.”
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