The Ministry of Health says through its National Malaria Elimination Programme, it has secured support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through Malaria Consortium, to carry out research which will guide policy decisions regarding the adoption of malaria intervention in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire made this revelation at the inauguration of the Nigeria intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria in Infancy (IPTI) Research and Policy Uptake task team (NIRPUT) in Abuja.
Dr. Ehanire said, malaria is still a major public health burden in Nigeria, accounting for 27% of global cases and 24% of global deaths.
He said according to our nationally representative surveys, there has been a decline in prevalence from 27% in 2015 (NMIS) to 23% (NDHS), although this figure is yet to meet the country’s target.
He said in 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO), recommended the adoption of Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria in infancy (IPTi) as one of the preventive interventions for deployment in sub-Saharan Africa, where the P. falciparum parasite is prevalent.
He however said Nigeria is yet to deploy this intervention or conduct a large scale in-country pilot since the recommendation by WHO to provide local evidence of its effectiveness and acceptability, hence the need to conduct this study.
Dr. Ehanire said the Federal Ministry of Health has the responsibility to provide policy direction on health-related interventions through evidence generation, which is one of the purposes of the inauguration of the uptask team.
According to him “it is pertinent to note that by coordinating IPTi delivery with EPI, coverage can be expanded”.
“The administration is safe, simple, cost-effective and thought to be accepted by health workers and communities in countries where it is being deployed”.
“Of importance is that IPTi using SP has been found to have no negative effect on the protective efficacy of EPI vaccines”.
“Furthermore, IPTi is intended to complement ongoing programmatic malaria control interventions such as Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention, vector control measures such as the use of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) as well as prompt diagnosis and treatment of confirmed malaria cases using Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy”.
He said the National IPTi Research and Policy Uptake Task Team (NIRPUT), will serve as a source of support for knowledge management and engagement with key National and subnational stakeholders to increase the likelihood of uptake and acceptability of the findings from this research that provide national policy guidance regarding clinical effectiveness of IPTi.
He expressed belief that the intervention will be promising and will contribute substantially to efforts towards malaria elimination in Nigeria.