Huawei donates N50m, partners Access Bank, others to fight malaria

 

Dayo Emmanuel

One of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, Access Bank plc has reaffirmed its commitment to continue in the fight against malaria in Nigeria.

At a press conference held at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos, the bank in partnership with the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHN) announced the new partner in the war- Huawei Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Mr. Herbert Wigwe welcomed the new partner on the project, who’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Fank Li donated N50m on behalf of the company to support the war against malaria in Nigeria.

“Today we want to welcome Huawei our great partner who is joining us in this campaign with a huge pledge of N50m which is significant,” he said, adding that, “Access Bank remains at the forefront of all of this process, we would continue to support it, we have a couple of other partners who have been taking this campaign seriously across the whole country to ensure that we raise money to fight malaria to zero.”

Wigwe however attested to the fact that malaria kills more than AIDS in Nigeria and should therefore be fought to zero. “Malaria claims more lives than HIV/AIDS in Nigeria not to talk about the impact on our whole workforce of our entire population.” Appreciating the involvement of Huawei, Wigwe added that “Today is a very important day for us as we welcome a new important member of the family Huawei joining us in this great campaign.”

Presenting Wigwe’s paper while he had to leave for other official engagement was Roosevelt Ogbonna, Access Bank’s Deputy Director.

In the presentation, Ogbonna reeled out frightening statistics and stated why it is of utmost importance to collaborate with necessary stake holders to eliminate malaria in Nigeria.

“Malaria is a major public health problem in Nigeria with frightening statistics. It accounts for more cases of death than any other country in the world. There is an estimated 100 million malaria cases with over 300,000 deaths per year in the country and this is coming ahead of AIDS that kills 215,000 people on an annual basis,” he said.

Ogbonna added that “Malaria also contributes 11% of maternal mortality rate and it accounts for 60% outpatients’ visits and 30% of hospitalization among children under five years old in Nigeria.”

Going by the geopolitical zones, he gave that malaria has the greatest prevalence among children within the age of 6-59 months in the South West, the North Central as well as the North West regions while the South East has a better statistics. “In the South East region there is a better statistics which is still even bad as malaria accounts for about 27.6 % among children between six and twelve years old.”

He added that “Up till recent years we have seen reduction in malaria and we still have 500,000 deaths 90% of which still take place in Sub-Saharan Africa. So it is our problem with 90% of the deaths coming from the Sub-Saharan Africa, you would agree with me it is our problem. I strongly believe every institution in Africa both public and private have a role to play in wining this battle and create a better health care for our children and for our continent.”

However, Access Bank is according to Ogbonna committed  and would continue to find new ways to make it a joint effort involving the government, the NGOs, the medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies to work together to treat this disease especially as it affects Africa.

“The platform of malaria to zero is an innovative financing platform to galvanize private sector specifically toward generating resources and bringing their capabilities together to sustain the fight toward averting at least 1m cases of malaria deaths by 2020,” he said, stating further that, there are now about 26 organisations with Huawei making it the 27th private institutions joining the campaign toward fighting this course to at least reduce by deaths associated with malaria by 100 million deaths by 2020.

“At Access Bank we have a dedicated business team that specifically dedicated to cater for NGOs and private organisations, this enables the bank to provide a safe and transparent channel for international donours and NGOs to channel funding to local partners,” he stated. “We continue to develop new ways to finance and address the growing businesses on our continent and we are committed to making sure these businesses are there to sustain good business practices working with partners like Health Alliance Nigeria, Hacey Health Initiative among others,” he explained.

In his own remark, representative of the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, Dr. Eniola Erinosho at the event enlightened on the efforts of the Lagos State government in eradicating malaria in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre.

“The Lagos State government is fully ready to collaborate with Access Bank in this initiative,” Erinosho pledged. Continuing, he said the state government has strategies to combat malaria.

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“The Lagos State government has strategy we are using following the international policy. We have our strategy we are using over the past 20 years. The first one is prevention under which prevention we have three basic strategies. The first is environmental management under which we make sure our environment is clean to ensure our drainages are not blocked. We have free flow of water and to ensure we eliminate all sources of breeding of mosquitoes,” he explained.

In addition he said in Lagos State it is shocking that mosquitoes breed in dirty water and in containers. “If you look around we have containers all over so we now have containerized mosquitoes. If you have used plastics, used sachet water plastics, these are what we called containerized breeding sites. So we are trying to see that we control all these,” he said.

Erinosho also told participants that the Lagos State government has sprayed chemicals in seven Local Government Areas to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and such efforts is continuing.

He also stated the commitment of the state government in distributing long lasting treated mosquito nets for pregnant women in the state. “When a woman is pregnant, we give drugs to prevent her from malaria. There is also a policy now that there must be diagnosis before you treat malaria,” he revealed.

On the involvement of the private sector, Erinosho said the state has a private sector that can provide services. “We actually engage the private sector for instance the procurement of the mosquito nets is done by the private sector.”

On the expectation of the state government, Erinosho said, “Basically as a state government, we expect the private sector to assist in social marketing, creating awareness within the populace to make sure there is no container used in breeding mosquitoes and to ensure that our pregnant women use treated nets.”

The other expectation according to him is in the area of social franchise where private organisations would come together to have a contractual agreement to manufacture drugs.

Also at the event, Chief Executive officer of Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, Dr. Muntaqa Sadiq said malaria represents an important health challenge in Nigeria.

“Malaria is a challenge both on health side and the business side,” he said.

Worried about the investment over the years in the health sector, Sadiq said Nigeria has not seen the result of such investment. “Despite the significance investment in our health sector, we are not seeing the impart in our health system. Malaria has continued to be the number one killer. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different result,” he explained.

He however suggest the nation rethinks a new way out. “We know that current health system is inadequate, this is about rethinking a new way of developing interventions; a new way of measuring impart, this is what this campaign is all about,” he said.

The project was launched 25th April 2016 marking the World Malaria Day at the Access Bank Headquarters, Lagos in the presence of the Lagos State government representatives as well as 20 organisations from the private sector.

 

 

 

 

 

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