Abuja, Nigeria, 12 November 2015 – Following the first ever seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) distribution programme in areas of Katsina state, northern Nigeria, reported malaria cases in children under five dropped by two thirds.
Speaking at an event held in Abuja to highlight the results of the pilot project, Malaria Consortium Country Director Dr Kolawole Maxwell added, “These results show that SMC works and should be scaled up across the northern region of Nigeria where there is a seasonal surge in malaria."
Malaria is a serious public health concern in Nigeria, accounting for 30 percent of all childhood deaths and 25 percent of deaths in children under one year. The entire Nigerian population is at risk of malaria all year round, but in the Sahel region of northern Nigeria the disease surges during the rainy season. This makes the region eligible for SMC, an approach which is recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent malaria in children under five when transmission follows a seasonal pattern.
Malaria Consortium was the first to conduct an SMC trial, rolling out a pilot project in Katsina and Jigawa states from 2013 to 2014. The project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK aid from the UK government, successfully increased access to SMC using community-based delivery systems to distribute the antimalarial drugs across four local government areas of Katsina State: Mashi, Dutsi, Mai’Adua, Baure; and in two local government areas in Jigawa state: Kazaure and Roni.
In addition to reducing malaria cases in young children, the project successfully demonstrated that community-based delivery of SMC is feasible, cost-effective and accepted by all stakeholders - from the community to the government. This means that SMC could now be scaled up across all Sahel areas of Nigeria, if sufficient funding was made available.
Some highlights of the results announced today are:
These results are part of a series of findings, lessons learnt and outcomes shared at the end of project event Implementing seasonal malaria chemoprevention policy in Nigeria: Results, lessons, and what next. The event saw the participation of the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Permanent Secretary of the Katsina State Ministry of Health, Katsina community members, key stakeholders of the National Malaria Elimination Programme and Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK government and the World Health Organization.
According to Dr Bala Audu, who represented the National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme, “The Nigerian Government is pleased to see such impressive results from this pilot SMC project. We remain committed to the fight against this deadly disease and the overarching goal of eliminating malaria from our country. SMC is an essential tool to help achieve this.”
Meanwhile, Malaria Consortium continues to provide SMC in Nigeria through another project funded by UNITAID. “We are currently implementing this project (ACCESS-SMC) in 17 selected Local Government Areas of two northern states, Zamfara and Sokoto,” said Dr Kolawole. “After the first year of SMC distribution, we hope to have reached an estimated two million children.” ACCESS-SMC, which runs until 2017, aims to provide a total of 15 million SMC treatments in 2015 and 30 million treatments in 2016 across the seven African countries in the Sahel region, to help protect an estimated 3.4 million children and 6.8 million children respectively. The countries covered by the project are Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Niger, and The Gambia.
For more information please contact: Marian Blondeel, Malaria Consortium
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