*Targets over two million children in on-going campaign
Borno state government in collaboration with Federal ministry of Health and WHO, have deployed about 8,000 community health care workers (including drug administrators, recorders, supervisors, monitors and community leaders) to deliver Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) to about two million children aged 3-59 months in Borno state.
The main objective of the campaign is to protect children from malaria during this year’s peak transmission season.
During a walk-through flag-off of the exercise, the Borno state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Kadafur stated that, government is committed to improving the health of its citizens by partnering with relevant organizations and agencies especially WHO, to implement evidence-based interventions like the SMC.
In his words,“Although, Borno is still tackling the outbreak of COVID-19 which has affected nearly 600 persons, in 11 local government areas, it is equally urgent and essential to tackle malaria which is a major killer of children in the state.”
Through the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), WHO received funding from the Global Fund to reach approximately two million children living in 25 LGAs of Borno state with the SMC.
Since 2017, WHO has been supporting the SMC implementation in Borno state as part of the North East humanitarian response.
Data from the Early Warning and Alert Response Surveillance systems shows that malaria accounts for more than 50% of sicknesses and deaths in children under 5 in the state, which increases during the 4-month peak transmission season July-October every year.
The door to door campaign, which is the first of the four cycles for 2020, is being implemented in 201 political wards across 25 accessible local government areas of Borno state and focuses on antimalarial drug distribution, community sensitization and awareness creation, risk communication and social mobilization as well as referral of sick people for facility care.
In his palace, the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, also flagged off the campaign by administering the anti-malaria drug to a number of eligible children.
He urged, “The government and partners to ensure that internally displaced persons are not left out of the campaign since they are the most exposed, living in make-shift tents and unprotected from mosquito bites.”
SMC is the intermittent administration of full treatment courses of an antimalarial medicine amodiaquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, during the malaria season to prevent illness with the objective of maintaining therapeutic antimalarial drug concentrations in the blood throughout the period of greatest malarial risk.
According to WHO National Consultant, Malaria in Emergencies, Dr Ini Abass Nglass, SMC has proved to be effective in reducing the prevalence of malaria in children.
She added that, “SMC delivery will be conducted during peak rainy season (July -October) using the house- to- house strategy to ensure that all children between 3 months and 59 months receive the medication.”
Giving effective antimalarial treatment at monthly intervals during this period has been shown to be 75% protective against uncomplicated and severe malaria in children under 5 years of age.