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Monday, July 15, 2024

NMEP tasks Nigerians with behavior change to achieve the goal

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As Nigeria aims for malaria elimination by 2030, the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) has stressed the importance of behavior change to reduce the burden of malaria and achieve the set target.

The National Coordinator of NMEP, Godwin Ntadom, made the call on Wednesday during an interview with journalists in Abuja at the Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria Learning and Transition event.

The event, themed: “Celebrating Successes, Consolidating Learning, and Transitioning to Sustainability,” highlights the achievements of Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria, USAID’s global flagship social and behavioral change project over the past seven years in health areas ranging from malaria prevention to motherhood and childbirth. , among others.

According to Ntadom, “human behavior” contributes to the challenges in the fight against malaria in Nigeria.

“We distribute mosquito nets, but people don’t use them. Some even get sick and do not receive treatment. That is why we need to change attitudes and human behavior,” he noted.

“When you have malaria symptoms, you should get tested or treated; another mosquito definitely won’t take the parasite from you and spread it further.”

Importance of behavior change

Ntadom said that as early as 1897, when Ronald Ross discovered the malaria parasite, countries took proactive measures and Belgium was able to eliminate malaria through social and behavioral change (SBC).

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“In 1900, it was clear that mosquitoes transmitted malaria to humans. Only with this knowledge, some countries took proactive measures,” said the public health expert.

“So there was no chloroquine, quinine or DDT, just a change in behavior led to the elimination of malaria in Belgium in 1912, and the United Kingdom followed suit and was able to eliminate malaria in 1922.

“Looking ahead, the role of behavioral change cannot be underestimated, because if we adopt it, we will know where mosquitoes breed and how malaria is transmitted, so we don’t need anything additional to keep us away.”

He added that at the NMEP “we can never underestimate the role of social behavior change in the effort to eliminate malaria in the country.”

SBC is a comprehensive approach that focuses on influencing and changing the attitudes, beliefs and practices of individuals or communities.

Nigeria’s efforts and partnership

According to Mr. Ntadom, Nigeria is still far from malaria elimination, but hopefully more can be achieved if the set target is achieved.

“We have control of malaria by technical definition. “We started talking about elimination when we started seeing one case per 1,000 people, but now we are still seeing 20 cases per 100 people, so we are still monitoring,” he said.

He noted that the NMEP needs resources to reach more populations, adding that the malaria vaccine is still a work in progress in Nigeria.

Mr. Ntadom also admitted that the partnership with the Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria project has been beneficial in bringing about some changes in behavioral patterns among Nigerians.

“Working with them has been wonderful, we have come a long way with them. We hope that it can continue if possible and have the support of other organizations. It is a partnership we want to continue,” he said.

About the project

During the transition and learning event in Abuja, the Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria project officially transferred efforts and results to government agencies and community organizations.

The project operates under the leadership of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and partners with federal and state health ministries and local organizations that apply social and behavior change (SBC) to change health outcomes.

Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria is said to be the largest national social and behavioral program ever funded by USAID/Nigeria with a total investment of over $100 million over seven years.

Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria Project Director, Shittu-Abdu Aguye

“In the seven years of implementation of Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria, we believe that we have transformed the landscape for the implementation of the SBC program in our 12 intervention states,” Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria Project Director Shittu-Abdu Aguye said in his keynote address. welcome.

“Through our community, media, mobile/digital behaviour, supplier behaviour, advocacy and SBC capacity building interventions, Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria has led by example when it comes to implementation of SBC programs in Nigeria”.

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