By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
An NGO, the Global Fund Malaria Accountability and Advocacy Project on Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunization and Nutrition (ACOMIN), has decried challenges in carrying out malaria intervention amidst CoronaVirus pandemic in focal States.
ACOMIN, a National Network of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), working on the prevention, treatment and mitigation of the impact of Malaria, and promotion of immunization and better nutrition in Nigeria, made the revelation in Katsina State during media briefing at focus media meeting at state level.
In a paper presented by the State Programme Officer (SPO), Katsina State, Mr. Shuaibu Shuaibu Musa, he said, “carrying out activities amidst COVID-19 presented several challenges which includes restriction of movement and preventing community health volunteers from carrying out malaria interventions.”
Other challenges listed by the SPO, according to our reporter who was there, included inadequate provision of PPE’s for health workers, particularly at PHCs, which exposes and makes them unable to provide optimal services as required by the clients.
“In addition to that, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had an effect on accessing malaria services in health facilities as the people are afraid of being suspected to have COVID-19 if they presented symptoms of malaria at the facilities.
“Many community members have a notion that since people who are sick visit the health facilities, the facility staff would most likely have come in contact with COVID-19 cases and as such, see the facilities as places where COVID-19 infection could happen. As a result of these, they avoid visiting the facilities,” he added.
Corroborated by ACOMIN State Chairman, Shola Babadiya, the SPO stated that they also observed during Community Based Organizations (CBOs), interventions, that, there was a high level of non-compliance to the government guidelines in prevention of COVID-19 within the communities.
“This was evident through the resistance to the use of facial masks and non-observation of the social distancing measures put in place,” he stated.
Shuaibu Musa further stated that as a result of the gaps identified, the CBOs engaged on the project were tasked, among other things, including “sensitizations on COVID-19 prevention during their community engagements while observing the laid down guidelines.
“They were also encouraging community members to do same as it regards the correct and consistent use of face mask in public places, observing social distancing as well as proper and constant hand washing.
“The interventions of the CBOs has further brought about some assurance on the need to continually access malaria services being provided at the facilities, while also providing them with basic information on how to prevent themselves from COVID-19, as well as the importance of abiding by the guidelines put in place to further reduce community infection.
“Some of the results of the interventions during this period, according to organizers, are increase in client inflow at facilities compared to when the pandemic started, and increase in use of facemasks and practicing of social distancing particularly seen during interactions with the community volunteers.”
They however, itemized other challenges facing malaria intervention under COVID-19 prevention in some parts of the state to include poor community involvement, condition of infrastructure and lack of access to good healthcare services among others.
“‘They stressed the need for increased funding for malaria interventions by governments at all levels, high level of community involvement in malaria control activities and the need for the state governments to provide accessible and affordable Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) with standard equipment and drugs to diagnose and treat malaria, improved unified and robust planning for malaria intervention.
They also stressed the need for a sustainable framework for implementation of malaria intervention, and synergize with the CSOs for community sensitization and awareness on CoronaVirus pandemic, as well as provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in the health facilities across the state.
Accordingly, the statement noted that “As part of national effort to address the challenges of malaria in Nigeria, ACOMIN has been engaged by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), under the ongoing Global Fund, GF, Malaria Grant to implement the civil society component.
“The CSOs under this grant are focused on accountability and advocacy and the initiative is focused on accountability for commodity utilization, value for money, budgetary appropriations and human resource deployment. The project is being implemented in the thirteen (13) GF supported states, including Katsina State.
Since the inception of the project in May 2019, several success stories have been recorded, some of the most recent achievements of the project in Katsina State, through advocacy, include the building and equipping of Guma new Health Facility, Tagura Health Facility renovated and equipped, Sonkaya MCHC provided with running water, Suduje Health Facility provided with running water, borehole sunk at Kofar Guga, and a security guard recruited to the health facility at CHC Mashi, respectively among others.