Prince Ned Nwoko, an indigene of Idumuje-Ugboko in Aniocha North local government area of Delta state, is envisioning a big dream for Nigeria and the African continent. He has a plan of eradicating malaria from Nigeria and the entire African continent. It is a tall dream but an achievable one. The Anioma prince is ready to fight the war and win. His greatest ambition and joy is to see a Nigeria and Africa that is free from the scourge of the killer disease.
The Anioma prince has seen that malaria is a killer disease that shows mercy to no one. And the most affected are children and mostly predominant in Sub-Sahara Africa. Using his Ned Nwoko Foundation, the philanthropist is poised to see Nigeria among the league of nations that have wiped out malaria and having children live their lives to the fullest in the country. He is single-handedly championing this project and is set to ensure the vision is actualised.
Reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveal that every two minutes, a child dies of malaria. And each year, more than 200 million new cases of the disease are reported. Malaria causes more than three hundred million acute illnesses and kills at least one million people every year. 90 per cent of deaths due to malaria occur in Africa, south of the Sahara, and most deaths occur in children under the age of five.
Malaria, a life-threatening disease, is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Reports say sub-sahara Africa carry the heaviest burden of malaria globally. In 2017, the WHO reports 219 million estimated cases of malaria in 87 countries of the world. Out of this figure, 90 percent of the cases were reported in Sub-sahara Africa.
Other parts of the world that are feeling the pangs of the malaria scourge are the South East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific. Countries in these zones are also at high risk of malaria. Children under the age of five are the most affected group by the disease. Investigation shows that in 2017, over 266,000 children died of malaria before their 5th birthday, a development which accounted for 61% death globally.
Malaria can trap families and communities in a downward spiral of poverty, disproportionately affecting marginalized and poor people who cannot afford treatment or who have limited access to health care. According to UNICEF, malaria is the largest children killer disease in the world. UNICEF says about 3000 children die every day and that over one million people die from malaria each year, mostly children under five years of age.
The world body added that an estimated 300-600 million people suffer from malaria each year. It says more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives in malaria-risk areas. Malaria hampers children’s schooling and social development. Many children who survive a serious attack of malaria develop physical and mental impairment.
The disease is a major cause of poverty. The cost of malaria control and treatment drains African economies, slowing economic growth by about 1.3 per cent a year. Its prevention is an important part of poverty reduction and economic development. Low cost, commonly used therapies, are increasingly ineffective. In many parts of Africa, 70 per cent of malaria cases are resistant to cheap existing antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine.
From the foregoing, one can see why Prince Ned Nwoko is passionate about the eradication of malaria from Nigeria and the African continent. In the African continent, three countries are said to be malaria-free. The WHO says Mauritius, Morocco and Algeria are three African countries that are malaria-free. Mauritius was declared free in 1973, Morocco was declared in 2010 while Algeria was declared free on May 22, 2019. The disease was discovered in Algeria in 1880.
Prince Ned Nwoko is desirous of ridding the entire African continent, not only Nigeria, of malaria. To this end, Nwoko has concluded plans to fund research for a malaria vaccine to the tune of US $750,000 to be accessed by five African universities. Ned Nwoko is advocating for a clean environment, vaccine development and fumigation of the entire Nigeria. He plans to sponsor a bill at the National Assembly to call for a day for the fumigation exercise. This fumigation will be the beginning of achieving a national goal of eliminating malaria from Nigeria.
He is pained by the thousands and millions of deaths yearly and he wants such unwarranted death to end in Nigeria and Africa. He is very optimistic that in no distant time his plans will come to fruition. Nwoko believes that malaria scourge constitutes one of the greatest impediments to the general well-being and development of Africans and their societies.
According to him, most health challenges suffered by Africans including death, organ damage and other physical and mental impairments are directly or indirectly traceable to malaria. His Ned Nwoko foundation is sponsoring the audacious move towards freeing Nigeria and Africa from malaria.
He is ready to work with all governments, private organisations and good spirited Nigerians, civil society groups towards achieving the goal of extending malaria intervention programs and saving lives of Nigerians. He told a press conference in Abuja that “We have our eyes fixed on a permanent solution to the age-long scourge.”
He also believes that the parasitic disease causes huge economic loss by draining considerable funds that could have been used for support growth and general societal development. He said: “Malaria does not only cause loss of life but also interferes with athleticism, socio-economic activities and general way of life of the people over a sustained period.”
Nwoko explained that the inclination to empathize, assist and care for vulnerable Nigerians made him and his wife, Regina Daniels Nwoko to embark on the mosquito elimination and malaria eradication program.
His quest to combat the menace took him and some scientists to the coldest region of the world, Antarctica. He flew along with a team of scientists from Russia, India, United States of America and the United kingdom.Nwoko, 59, and a former member of the House of Representatives, intends to use the global attention this expedition will attract to create awareness on malaria eradication in Africa.
Nwoko’s move will go a long way to assisting Nigerians and the Nigerian government to save lives. And when lives are saved, the national economy will boom and development will thrive. Resources that have been pulled over the years to malaria war will be channelled to other sectors of the economy and surely development will thrive. What Nigerian government and the people need do now is to create the enabling environment for the actualisation of the vision and within a period of time, Nigeria will be declared malaria free-courtesy of Prince Ned Nwoko.
THIS ARTICLE IS WRITTEN BY AUSTIN OYIBODE