Ahamed Yakassai

Pharmacists have identified Nigerians’ inability to afford anti-malaria drugs as a major factor hindering the diseases eradication. Nigeria accounts for the world’s 30 per cent cases and deaths from malaria.

According to Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) President, Ahmed Yakasai, the Federal Government should try its best and reduce foreign exchange (forex) rate of dollar to naira in order to enable the common man access quality health care and anti malaria drugs.

Yakasai, who said this during a press conference to mark the world malaria day, which coincided with activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World Health Organisation (WHO), said: “Government needs to make the business environment more conducive and friendly for pharma businesses by instituting a reasonable tax regimes and make capital available and affordable by also instituting a cheaper exchange rate of not more than N200 for $1 as being done in other sector not as critical as pharmaceutical sector.”

The theme of this year’s event is: “This World Malaria Day, we’re ready to beat malaria – are you?”

The government, he said, must encourage research and development and kick off of petrochemical industries to encourage local production of drugs, adding that as long as 95 per cent of raw materials; active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), excipients and packaging materials for drugs are imported, the prices of medicines will continue to skyrocket.

“If you clean your environment, mosquitoes still abound in the environment. And people still come down with malaria. I am still appealing to manufacturers and retailers to see malaria issue as a social service to the people. They should be kind enough to reduce their prices so that it will be affordable and accessible,”he said.

He added: “I am happy with what the government signed when its representatives went for the commonwealth summit by agreeing to halve malaria cases by 50 per cent in the next five years. They want to reduce the death in African countries, especially the 11 countries plus Nigeria. Nigeria is going all out to collaborate with global fund to pay its counterpart funding, create awareness and distribute treated insecticide mosquito nets.
“By working down FOREX more drugs will be available because production cost will reduce. In addition to this, Nigerians should be more health conscious and clean their environments to prevent malaria.”

To encourage budding pharmacist in malaria elimination and tackle the widespread of malaria, Miral essay competition has been launched to engage young pharmacists and undergraduates in pharmacy. The topic is: “Ending malaria deaths in Africa: the challenges, the opportunities”.

Miral Pharmaceuticals Managing Director, Mr Onyeka Onyeibor, said the competition will help take on the possible solutions on the reduction of malaria as the deadly killer of about one thousand people every day. He added that the objective of the competition is to discover students and young health professionals, who do not only know about malaria, but effectively can communicate it to the global community as well as the Nigerian public.

Onyeibor said the winner will be awarded a million naira while the Dean of the Faculty that produces the first prize winner will get N500.000. And the Dean of the Faculty that produces the highest number of participants will also get N500, 000.

Meanwhile, “Ready to Beat Malaria”, the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership to End Malaria, has urged governments, health bodies, private sector companies and the public to accelerate the progress against malaria, and make the World Malaria Day more vital.

It noted that after a decade of success in pushing back malaria, it has been on the rise again and will come back with a vengeance if ‘we do not act decisively now’. “Half of the world is still threatened by malaria, an entirely preventable, treatable disease, which takes a child’s life every two minutes. Worldwide action is needed to meet the 2030 target of reducing malaria cases by at least 90 per cent.

“We are delighted that more countries than ever, forty-four, are reporting less than 10,000 cases. However, we must ensure we continue to press forward to end malaria – not only in high- burden nations, but those on track to eliminate the disease. It is our global responsibility to consign malaria to the history books,” it stated.

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