From Mfon Ekefre, Uyo
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA) has advocated the need for clerics to avail themselves of the opportunities it provides for training on malaria prevention that would be of help them, their immediate and extended families.
Already, the organisation has published a list of 18,000 beneficiaries to benefit from the first phase of the exercise which will focus on the use of long-lasting insecticide nets and other malaria preventive commodities.
Executive Director, NIFAA, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, announced this in Uyo while flagging off the training programme.
Onuoha explained that the training would be done in phases with the first batch of 310, with 10 drawn from all the local government areas of the states.
The director said training the clerics would promote the correct use of the nets and acceptability and other malaria preventive commodities.
“We the faith leaders are divine, our members believe in us more than even the doctors and the political leaders. It is better for us to do naming ceremony and child dedication instead of conducting burial for our children on account of malaria attack,” Onuoha said.
He, therefore, urged the religious leaders to preach about malaria prevention on Fridays in mosques and Sundays in churches.
Declaring the training session open, a director in the ministry of health commended the religious leaders for partnering with the ministry and other health-care providers to fight malaria.
The director who represented the state commissioner at the event said the state government and its development partners distributed 2.7 million malaria treated nets last December.
The commissioner noted that the involvement of faith organizations in health care delivery was highly commendable because the religious leaders would be exposed to the right information for their members.
“Too many deliveries had been done in churches and the result had been high maternal mortality” he said.
He also called on religious leaders to encourage their members to patronise health facilities.
The commissioner observed that in most of the public health facilities where anti-malaria materials are available, the drugs stayed and expired in stores without demand from the people.
He said by giving the right information, preaching the right sermon, and living as role models, the religious leaders can help reduce the scourge of malaria and other diseases.
The State’s Programme Manager, National Malaria Elimination Programme, Dr. John Orok, told the audience that the state achieved 97.8 percent level of nets distribution last December.
Orok said the testing and treatment for malaria in government health facilities in the state was free.
He enjoined the religious leaders to encourage their members, especially pregnant women, to patronise public health facilities for malaria treatment.
A representative of Akwa Ibom Chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Bishop Ekom Robert, appreciated the partnership with the religious bodies and health care delivery.
Robert said the training would afford the leaders of Christians and Moslems the opportunity to meet to discuss freely on issues of common interest.
He called for prayers for the success of the programme and the health care projects in the country.
Chief Imam of Uyo Mosque, Mohammed Adamu, thanked the organisers of the programme and promised to educate his members on proper use of preventive malaria consumables.
Mohammed said the Moslem community in the states had participated effectively in the collection and distribution exercise.