Official flag-off ceremony of the Integrated SMC/ITN 2023 campaign in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria

By Omileha Odey and Daniel Gbue Denen

SFH made history as the implementing partner of the first integrated SMC/ITN campaign in Nigeria. The Kwara State Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), the Global Fund, the Society for Family Health (SFH), and various partners, officially launched the Integrated SMC/ITN 2023 campaign in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. The Kwara State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria’s Governors Forum, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq CON, flagged off the campaign. During the event, the Governor reaffirmed his administration’s unwavering dedication to reducing malaria prevalence in the state.

Governor AbdulRazaq highlighted the state government’s commitment to co-financing vital projects and its ongoing healthcare community projects across different Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Kwara. He emphasised the essential role of donors and partners in their achievements, pledging to do what is necessary to make sure healthcare delivery is at the top of the agenda in the state.

The Governor urged traditional and religious leaders, as well as other key stakeholders, to lend their support to the campaign, emphasising the importance of ensuring the programme’s success. He encouraged sensitisation efforts to ensure that the people of Kwara receive mosquito nets and that children aged between 3 and 59 months benefit from the SPAQ administration.

Dr Issa Kawu, representing the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Nigeria, Muhammad Ali Pate, noted the substantial reduction in national malaria prevalence in Nigeria, dropping from 42% in 2010 to 21% in 2021. Kwara State, in particular, has made remarkable progress, reducing its malaria prevalence from 26% in 2021 to just 5.6% presently. Dr Kawu expressed gratitude to the Governor for the state’s effective response to malaria and stressed the need for collective efforts to further reduce malaria prevalence, especially given Kwara State’s role as one of the 13 beneficiaries of the Global Fund grant for malaria.

Dr Jean-Thomas Nouboussi, the Global Fund (GF) Country Portfolio Manager for Nigeria, underlined the importance of integration to enhance healthcare in Kwara. He pointed out that Kwara is among the five states chosen to pioneer the implementation of health insurance and the integration of TB/HIV grants in Nigeria. Dr Nouboussi praised Kwara State for its substantial success in reducing malaria prevalence and announced an increased funding allocation, from 15 million in GC 6 to approximately 21 million in GC 7, for malaria initiatives.

Dr Amina El-imam, the Commissioner for Health, expressed Kwara State’s appreciation for the support and reiterated their unwavering commitment to the campaign’s success. She encouraged the Global Fund to explore further opportunities for programmes, partnerships, and investments in the state.

The primary objective of the 2021-2023 malaria grant is to contribute to the achievement of the 2021-2025 National Malaria Strategic Plan’s goals, aiming to reduce malaria prevalence to less than 10% and decrease malaria morbidity to less than 10% parasite prevalence and mortality attributable to malaria to fewer than 50 deaths per 1,000 by 2025.

Prior to the flag-off ceremony, the State team and various malaria partners conducted a high-level advocacy visit to Governor AbdulRazaq to garner Kwara State’s support for the integration of HIV/TB/Malaria and other communicable diseases. This meeting brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including members of the Global Fund, the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN), Family Health International (FHI 360), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Society for Family Health Nigeria (SFH), Chemonics, NMEP, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Kwara State Ministry of Health, as well as other essential partners.

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