ECOWAS Commission intensifies its Campaign against malaria with the flag-off of the construction of a biolarvicides factory in Port Harcourt
| By Maureen Chigbo | Apr. 29, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE ECOWAS commission has taken the war against malaria a step further by flagging off the construction of a biolarvicides factory in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Nigerian factory is one of the three being built in three ECOWAS member states under a Tripartite Agreement between ECOWAS, Cuba and Venezuela, The factory is specifically built to produce boilarvicides, a safe substance that kills the larvae of malaria vectors, mosquitoes.
The two other factories will be located in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the campaign which seeks to eliminate malaria in the region by 2015. Under the campaign, ECOWAS seeks to strengthen the vector control component of the intervention to rid West Africa of malaria, which is a major public health problem that also stunts economic development of the region and Africa as a whole.
Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, president of ECOWAS Commission and Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria’s minister of health, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, unveiled the plaque at a well-attended ceremony on Thursday, April 11. The ground breaking ceremony was preceded by a town hall meeting at the packed 5,000-capacity Diete Spiff Civic Centre, Port Harcourt, where representatives of civil society organisations, religious and traditional rulers, women and youth groups and ECOWAS Commission officials, among others, discussed the ramifications of malaria vector control intervention, which the World Health Organisation, WHO, has acknowledged as the only strategy that could reduce malaria transmission from high level to zero.
During the session, a panel of experts headed by Chioma Amajoh, immediate past national coordinator of Nigeria’s Malaria Control Programme, nicknamed “Mama Malaria” for her sustained anti-malaria efforts, underscored the need for all stakeholders – governments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the citizens to play their role to make the regional campaign a huge success.
Ouédraogo reaffirmed ECOWAS’ commitment and determination to eliminate the malaria scourge so as to free resources for the economic development and to enable the region attain its full potentials. The organisation’s major priorities of peace and security coupled with economic development cannot be achieved unless such threats as malaria are effectively addressed, he added.
The president commended development partners especially the governments of Cuba and Venezuela for supporting the ECOWAS campaign, noting that all hands should be on deck until the war against malaria is won. He also expressed confidence in the prospect of achieving the 2015 date for malaria elimination, while expressing the commission’s appreciation to the government and people of Rivers State and especially Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, one of Nigeria’s two Malaria Ambassadors for partnering with ECOWAS on the anti-malaria initiative.
Chukwu who spoke on behalf of Jonathan thanked ECOWAS leaders for initiating the campaign with the two Latin American countries providing both financial and technology transfer support. He listed the federal government’s various malaria initiatives and highlighted the need to strengthen indoor residual spraying of mosquitoes as well as environmental sanitation through the reintroduction of sanitary health inspectors in the country.
Governor Chibuike Amaechi reaffirmed Rivers State’s total support to the regional campaign and promised that the government would do all that is required to ensure that the state maintained its lead in the national malaria elimination campaign. Similarly, Tamunoiyoriari Sampson Parker, Rivers State Commissioner for Health, described the ceremony as “a paradigm shift and a historic event for us as it marks the build-up of efforts to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and eventual target of zero-incidence in locally contracted malaria”
There were also goodwill messages from the WHO and Nigeria’s minister of defence, represented by Uzor Chima, who expressed the hope that the proposed involvement of military personnel would provide the regional campaign with the discipline and precision needed for its successful prosecution.
Adhiambo Odaga, managing director of Dangote Foundation, who represented the business mogul, Aliko Dangote, another Malaria Ambassador and head of the Dangote Group, pledged the group’s support to the regional anti-malaria initiative and stressed the need for public-private sector collaboration.
Milanes Ramos Hugo, Cuban envoy to Nigeria, who attended the two events with his wife, reiterated his country’s total commitment and support to the ECOWAS campaign as a demonstration of South-South cooperation. In his vote of thanks, vice president of ECOWAS Commission, thanked the partner countries, the Rivers State Government, the local organising committee and Governor Amaechi in particular, for lending their full support to the ECOWAS campaign, which is in furtherance of the ECOWAS of people agenda and the goal of regional development and integration.
Mariane Ngoulla, ECOWAS heath adviser, appealed to all stakeholders to be effective in their roles, adding that instead of being “mosquito farmers” necessary measures should be taken to stop the indiscriminate breeding of the malaria vector. The ECOWAS delegation to the twin-event included Sunny Ugoh, the director of communication and Johnson Buanuh, director of environment, who explained that studies by the Commission have shown that the biolarvicides for the campaign are safe. Alfred Braimah, the private sector director, also explained that apart from producing the substance for malarial elimination, the three factories will also create jobs in the region.