The Federal Government has been urged to improve access to quality malaria medicines, which is the country's highest public health burden accounting for 25 per cent of Under-5 mortality and 11 per cent of maternal mortality.
The appeal was made at a media chat organised by a non-profit organisation, Society for Family Health (SFH), on Private Co-payment Mechanism for Improving Access to Malaria Medicine held in Abuja recently.
Director, Malaria at SFH, Dr. Ernest Nwokolo, while, addressing journalists on behalf of the organisation, said, one of the key objectives was to ensure that persons with malaria receive prompt treatment with an effective malaria medicine and this could be achieved by promoting availability of appropriate malaria medicines through free, subsidised or commercial systems. He added that NMEP has adopted an approach to collaborate and partner relevant bodies, organisations with effective coordination that would lead to control and eventual elimination of malaria in the country.
He stated that, the co-payment mechanism was formally referred to Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFs), and is an innovative Public-Private Partnership and financing mechanism, aimed at expanding access to affordable Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACTs) in eight developing countries including Nigeria.
"The commercial private sector, in partnership with NMEP, ensures that these medicines are widely available at reduced price in both public and private facilities. This initiative piloted in Nigeria in 2010, has remarkably increased availability and affordability of malaria medicines (ACTs), in the market.
"Although, Nigeria is a signatory to the 2000 declaration on Roll Back Malaria (RBM); the malaria indicators remain poor. For instance, the recent survey (NMIS) 2010, indicates that the prevalence of malaria for children under 5 remain high at 42%. Policy makers should make policies to address inadequate recruitment, retention, and motivation of human resources needed to achieve the goal of malaria control in Nigeria", he added.
Nwokolo said the National Survey on price and availability of AMFm ACTs, carried out in collaboration with WHO, in April 2014 which covered 400 facilities in 6 geopolitical zones, showed a 75 per cent availability of AMFm ACTs and the average price for the of 6 tablets was N112, while the adult pack of 24 tablets was N302 and that, technical partners are currently assessing the feasibility of including diagnostic testing in the private sector co-payment mechanism. The results of this assessment will inform operationalisation of the co-payment system for diagnostic testing.