Maimuna Abdulraham a caregiver and four other women living in Yola South Local Government Area in Adamawa state sat patiently under a tree in front of their houses awaiting the turn of their children to receive the antimalarial drugs administered by a community health dispenser.
The drugs are administered as the fourth cycle of the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention, SMC intervention in Adamawa and Yobe states. It is part of the larger efforts to eliminate the scourge in the states and the country in general.
“I allowed all my children below fivr years receive the antimalarial drugs. I used to be skeptical about the drugs but with better enlightenment from the community health champion living in my vicinity, I know that I will be doing my household a disservice by not allow the children receive the drugs.
“Aside receiving the antimalarial drugs, a community health champion also advised that my children and I should be sleeping under the insecticidal bed nets to reduce the exposure to mosquito, added Mrs Abdulraham.
A persistent threat
Malaria is still of significant burden and cause of morbidity and mortality in children under five in Nigeria. Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention SMC) refers to the intermittent administration of full treatment of an antimalarial medicine to children aged 3-59 months to prevent malarial illness during peak of the transmission season.
To reduce the burden of the disease, the World Health Organization recommends SMC, the administration of four monthly courses sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) and amodiaquine (AQ) (SPAQ), to children aged 3-59 months during the rainy season.
Aside the SMC campaign, WHO-supported community health champions have also played a key role in enlightening the community on why the intervention is important.
Although the malaria burden in Nigeria is still high there has been a progressive decline in the prevalence of malaria in Nigeria from 42% in 2010 to 23% in 2018. This may be closely related to a surge in intervention coverage, Dr Richard Lako, WHO Emergency Manager, Northeast Nigeria said.
To implement the SMC campaign, WHO provided technical support to both states by training 11,000 trained health workers/volunteers comprising of the recorders, community drug dispensers, community mobilizers, community leaders, LGA stakeholders, monitors, and supervisors who administered SMC drugs to more than 1.9m children aged 3 months – 59 months across 404 wards in 38 implementing LGAs of the states. Funding for the implementation of the four successful cycles was provided by the Global Fund through the National Malaria Elimination Programme.
‘The implementation of these cycles in Adamawa and Yobe states will undoubtedly, play a pivotal role in reducing the burden of malaria not only in the northeast but the nation at large. WHO will continue to provide technical guidance to these states”, said Dr Lako.
Appreciating WHO and partners for the intervention, Professor Abdullahi Isa, Commissioner for Health and human services in Adamawa said, “WHO has been providing technical support to the state since the first-ever launch of Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention campaign in 2018.
Thanks to the profound support of the Global Funds through the National Malaria Elimination Programme for the procurement and delivery of more than six million doses of the SMC drugs for the proposed four cycles in Adamawa and Yobe states. I know this intervention will help to prevent malaria especially the most vulnerable”, he said.