By Okon Bassey
Uyo — No fewer than 1,830 health workers in Akwa Ibom State have been armed with knowledge by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded programme, Malaria Action Programme for States (MAPS) to wage war through the prevention of malaria in the state.
The health workers were armed with knowledge on malaria case management, prevention and control in malaria in pregnancy as well as capacity building on malaria rapid diagnostic test (mRDT) and training of 25 laboratory scientists in the state on malaria microscopy.
The Head of MAPS in Nigeria, Mr. Oluwole Adeusi stated this in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital in a windup ceremony to mark the end of MAPS projects in the state after six years.
According to him, within the two years of MAPS existence in the state over 95 per cent of confirmed uncomplicated malaria cases had been appropriately treated.
He said MAPS in collaboration with other partners worked assiduously to improve adherence to national malaria guidelines, planning, budgeting and development of annual operational plan in the state.
MAPS is a-six year programme spanning 2010 to 2016 implemented by FHI360 in partnership with Malaria Consortium (MC) and Health Partners International (HPI).
It has the major objective of increasing the quality, access and uptake of malaria control interventions in Nigeria by implementing and scaling up proven malaria control methods.
At an overview of MAPS implementation in the state, the State Coordinator, Mr. Ime Akpan, said the project which started in the state in March 2014 and had implemented monthly data validation exercise from local government areas as well as monthly state meeting on monitoring and evaluation.
Akpan said the programme had trained 150 personnel on Health Management Information System (HMIS) and supported robust health data consultative meetings.
The MAPS coordinator said the programme had assisted the continuous distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets through ante natal clinics and during immunisation days. He said the greatest challenge he had while the programme lasted was the nonchalance attitude of some health workers.
Delivering his welcome address, the state Health Commissioner, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, thanked MAPS for living up to expectations by contributing to significant reduction of malaria burden in the state.
Ukpong noted that MAPS project had made positive impacts and promised to create conducive environment for partners to operate in the state. "It is imperative that such gains be sustained for the achievement of the desired global targets," he said.
He thanked the Federal Ministry of Health, the United States government and other implementing partners for their efforts towards eliminating malaria in the state and Nigeria as a whole.
The State Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Augustine Umoh, noted that malaria was one illness that had defied preventive measures.
Umoh called on the Akwa Ibom government to evolve strategies that would sustain the gains recorded by MAPS in the state. He commended MAPS for partnering the NMA in the state to train doctors on treatment and management of malaria.
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