US re-launches malaria hotline in Nigeria

Gloria Essien, Abuja

The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, through the Office of the Inspector General, has re-launched its ‘ Make a Difference ‘ Malaria hotline to make it easier for Nigerians to report stolen and falsified anti-malaria drugs.

The initiative is born out of the need to curb the prevalence of counterfeit malaria medicines that undermines worldwide attempts to control the disease.

The “Make a Difference campaign” re-launched in Abuja by Special Agent Mr. Jonathan Schofield, is expected to encourage citizens to participate in strengthening and protecting malaria programmes within their countries.

“The MAD campaign is to solicit the involvement of local communities in the fight against people who prey upon malaria control programs in Nigeria and elsewhere.  The MAD campaigns main objective is to obtain actionable information concerning the theft, transhipment, resale or falsification of anti-malaria drugs and commodities receiving funding from the USAID President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)”, Mr. Schofield said.

He said that the office of the Inspector General started the MAD campaign in December 2015 in Nigeria to remind Nigerians of the dangers of using stolen and falsified anti-malarial medications or goods.

There is a MAD campaign hotline for citizens to call and report distributors, sellers or manufacturers of stolen and fake drugs to the Office of the Inspector General at the USAID.

The twenty four hours hotline would have English operators and the Office of the Inspector General says the identity of people who call to report stolen or falsified drugs would be treated as confidential.

The head malaria control in Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Ntadom,  praised the re-launched of MAD and said that it will help Nigeria as most of the malaria drugs in Nigeria were not of good quality.

He also said that the government is doing its best to arrest the falsification trend.

He also cautioned against branding every malaria commodities in the market as stolen.

“The manufacturers of those commodities also have access to the open market. They sell to people and they also market it.  We are trying to make it in such a way that all nets that are produced by the government carry ‘ not for sold’. With that, we will be able differentiate. It is not all the nets in the market that are stolen nets.  Please! ,” Mr. Ntadom appealed.

The Nigerian National Malaria Strategic Plan report that malaria is the cause of thirty percent of childhood deaths, twenty five percent of deaths in children under one year and eleven percent of maternal deaths in the country.