Reps ask FG to subsidise malaria drugs

Ogar highlighted that many Nigerians are unable to purchase the costly medications, even in spite of the country's high prevalence of malaria infection.

Malaria is a significant public health concern in Nigeria, with millions of people at risk of infection and the disease posing a considerable burden on the healthcare system. In an effort to combat this deadly disease, members of the Nigerian House of Representatives have called on the Federal Government to subsidize malaria drugs. This move has the potential to make life-saving medications more accessible to the Nigerian population, reduce the prevalence of malaria, and contribute to overall improvements in public health.

Malaria is a vector-borne disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite, primarily transmitted through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is a major global health problem, affecting people in tropical and subtropical regions. In Nigeria, malaria is endemic, and its impact is pervasive. The disease is responsible for a substantial number of illnesses and deaths, particularly among children under the age of five and pregnant women.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria accounts for a significant portion of global malaria cases and deaths. In 2020, an estimated 25% of malaria cases and 24% of malaria deaths worldwide occurred in Nigeria. The economic burden of malaria in the country is also substantial, with direct and indirect costs related to the disease placing a strain on healthcare resources and the overall economy.

Despite the efforts of the Nigerian government and various stakeholders to combat malaria, the disease remains a persistent threat. Factors contributing to the high prevalence of malaria in Nigeria include the lack of access to healthcare services, limited awareness and education, inadequate mosquito control measures, and the high cost of malaria treatment.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives discussed the possibility of declaring a state of emergency on malaria, considering the widespread prevalence of this bacterial disease in the country.

During the inaugural meeting of the Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Control, chaired by Amobi Ogar, the House urged the Federal Government to either subsidize or provide free malaria drugs in all government-owned health centers to ensure accessibility for Nigerians.

The committee also promised to act against malaria medications that are subpar and counterfeit by holding their manufacturers accountable for their actions.

Ogar emphasized that, despite the high malaria infection rates, many Nigerians couldn’t afford the expensive drugs. Additionally, the committee pledged to take action against substandard and counterfeit malaria drugs by imposing appropriate sanctions on their producers.

He maintained that the committee would take a look at the operation and processes of the Global Fund in relation to intervention in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“I am concerned by the havoc malaria is wrecking on our populace, and we are going to push and advocate that malaria drugs be subsidized, if not made free, at all government health centers. It is no rocket science that most Nigerians are affected by malaria and yet, drugs are not readily available, while the ones available are very exorbitant.

“My vision is to see a Nigeria where malaria drugs will be given to our people free of charge or subsidized.

“As you are all aware, the committee is saddled with the responsibility to formulate legislative measures for the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, coordinating and harmonizing the activities of government and non-governmental agencies on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria generally to ensure the effectiveness of the efforts at HIV/AIDS and malaria control, remedy, and cure for AIDS patients.”

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