From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has described as “unfortunate” the increasing annual deaths from malaria.

The minister was also unhappy that despite huge financial and logistic investments over the years, malaria could not be eliminated in Nigeria, rather more deaths are being recorded annually as a result of malaria.

Speaking at the roundtable discussion on Rethinking Malaria Elimination in Nigeria, on Friday, in Abuja, the minister insisted that Nigeria (African countries) and the global malaria community must reinvent approaches to address the constraints that prevent efficient delivery of existing effective key malaria control strategies, and forthcoming innovations and tools.

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He said: “It’s exactly 24 years ago, (April 25, 2000) during the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria (RBM) in Abuja, that over 44 Heads of Government and Development Partners signed the “Abuja Declaration on RBM” outlining several objectives and a plan of action to combat malaria in Africa.

“But when we interrogate the objectives of the Declaration, we could candidly assess how much progress or otherwise we have made. The RBM Initiative has achieved remarkable progress even though we are yet to triumph over malaria. We have witnessed increased funding for malaria control efforts in Africa, from domestic and international sources, but huge gaps still exist.

“Undoubtedly, tools for the control of the disease have evolved both in quantity and quality over the years, but commitment by countries towards the elimination of the disease could not be sustained as budgets for healthcare across countries on the continent dwindled over time, and only a few countries could achieve the Abuja targets.”