There are indications that Akwa Ibom State, one of the big oil and gas states of the Niger Delta is being ravaged by the malaria scourge.
This is bursting into the open as the state government under the watch of Governor Udom Emmanuel, a former bank top executive, is busy soliciting increased immunisation coverage from stakeholders to check the spread of preventable childhood killer diseases in the state.
The state Malaria Control Officer, Mary Bassey, while giving an update on Malaria Preventive Strategies Integration, maintained that apart from immunisation, there was need for all hands to also be on deck towards preventing other diseases such as malaria.
In a seeming frantic bid to arrest the malaria scourge, she said it was in the best interest of households to always use the Long Lasting Insecticidal Treated Nets (LLITNs) of which the government, according to her, has made 95.5 per cent distribution.
Though Bassey did not disclose what that means in tangible figures, she however, spoke on the need for a test for malaria before treatment and pregnant mothers taking of Intermediate Preventive Therapy ( IPT) three times before delivery as well as the keeping the environment clean by regular clearing of bushes, de-silting of drainages and proper disposal of empty of cans.
Health workers say the state is ranked high in many childhood diseases including that of the infant, maternal and new born babies as well as HIV/AIDS.
The appeal coming ahead of the forthcoming 2019 National Immunisation Plus Days(NIPDs) billed to hold from July 13 through 16, this year.
As approved by the Federal Ministry of Health, the immunisation programme will only be one round exercise unlike the previous years. Director of Public Health Services, Godfrey Akro , a medical doctor, who made this known in Uyo, the state capital, during a social mobilisation meeting said immunisation is important for the growth and sustainable development among children
‘’Since prevention is better than cure, there is need for stakeholders to take ownership of the programme for the elimination of early childhood diseases’’, he said.
Akro who was represented by the state Immunisation Officer, Ime Udo , noted that the exercise will involve house-to-house vaccination of children and lauded the contributions of partners in a bid to check killer diseases among children and pregnant women.
While he was calling on communities, households, churches, mosques and institutions to be prepared to receive health personnel during the immunisation campaign, the state Health Educator , Margeret Etim, said in her remarks that with only one round of the exercise this year , it beholves on all and sundry to take advantage of the exercise to immunise their children against childhood diseases.
She also disabused the minds of parents on the wrong perception about childhood diseases, saying that lack of immunisation could cause diseases and mal- functioning among children.
She however, observed that UNICEF ranks Akwa Ibom as one of the best in terms of social mobilisation on NIPDs in Nigeria, and accordingly urged for the tempo to be sustained.
According to her, ‘’for effective mobilisation, the message about immunisation should be carried to churches, mosques, town hall meetings by care givers, religious leaders traditional rulers, town criers and neighbours,” she emphasised.
Meanwhile, the state Coordinator of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ann Umoh, has stressed that for the programme to be successful, all stakeholders have a responsibility to disseminate the information to all communities in the state.