Lagos could be malaria-free by 2013

The Nigerian government announced the goal of making the state of Lagos free of malaria by 2013 while ECOWAS and Cuba have extended their partnership to stop malaria in West Africa by 2015.

Jide Idris, the commissioner for health in Nigeria, made the announcement during a malaria control and prevention awareness program at Ikorodu General Hospital meant to recognize World Malaria Day. He said that the government has embarked on a strategy of social mobilization and advocacy communication to orient the public on the need for malaria prevention, the Nation reports.

"Malaria, although a preventable and treatable disease, accounts for over 60 percent of outpatients," Idris said, according to the Nation. "The topography and population of Lagos state make us prone to malaria infection and transmission. It is endemic here, but we will employ all means possible to make Lagos malaria free by 2013."

The Republic of Cuba and the Economic Community of West African States have also agreed to new measures to extend their collaboration toward stopping malaria in the area by 2015. The collaboration will use a control and elimination program to halt the spread of the disease.

"Malaria is still the major cause of public health problem in Nigeria," Yewande Adesina, the special advisor to Governor Babatunde Fashola, said, according to the Nation. "Despite all efforts and processes undertaken to reduce the burden, it remains the leading cause of death for children under five, pregnant women and the incidence of 50 percent episode of malaria among the population each year. Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that malaria leads to 25 percent of infant mortality and 30 percent of childhood mortality. Malaria continues to rob the country of substantial investment, growth and development."

The ECOWAS and Cuban collaboration calls for developing a joint plan of action for the training of personnel in West Africa.