Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Programme, Audu Mohammed, says Nigeria may never be rid of malaria if private-sector agents like patent medicine vendors are not figured into delivery of malaria services.
He spoke as a Global Fund-funded malaria project by the Society for Family Health (SFH) found evidence that trained patent medicine vendors, pharmacists and private health facilities across 24 states helped increase the number of people malaria testing, using treated nets and getting access to artemisinin-combination therapy to treat malaria.
“It is quite obvious a lot of people go to private sector to seek health care. If we don’t empower the private sector, we will not achieve malaria-free Nigeria,” said Mohammed.
Speaking at the dissemination of the findings in Abuja, Ernest Nwokolo, who heads the malaria project at SFH said the project implemented in the last one year has shown private sector helps create access to malaria services even at a cost.
“The private sector is a very strong force, if we are serious without having positive outcomes in this country,” said Nwokolo.
“Sixty percent of people go to private sector. If we don’t include them in implementation, we are missing a lot of people. When they are not included in area of data collection, it becomes a problem. We have to involve them in planning and implementation and collect their data for planning.”
SFH managing director Bright Ekweremadu said, “The informal private sector which interacts intimately with the community must be empowered capacity-wise to effectively provide required resources and interventions at that level.”
“Through this sector, community level data can be sourced and included on a regular basis in the national database,” he noted.