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Nigeria Launches New Assault Against Malaria - 2002-06-17

Nigeria’s health ministry refutes criticism that the government is not doing enough to fight malaria. The World Health Organization says Nigeria is a malaria endemic region – where up to two thousand children per day die of the disease.

Health minister Professor Alphonsus Nwosu says the number of malaria related deaths in the country is not acceptable and that the government is exploring three options.

He says the first is to distribute about four million insecticide-treated mosquito nets to children under five and to pregnant mothers by the end of the year. The government's second effort is to color code and pre-package the anti-malarial drugs so that even illiterate Nigerians can take medication properly. The third idea would ensure that women in the second half of their pregnancy are inoculated against malaria to make sure also that their children are born with improved birth weight.

The Nigerian health minister says the nation has received grants from the government of Japan to strenghten its anti-malaria initiative. He says the funds will be used to purchase drugs for distribution to all parts of the country. Health officials say another joint venture funded by the U.S Agency for International Development is also assisting the Nigerian government in the renewed effort control new malaria infections. Professor Nwosu says the government is committed to eradicating the threat to public health posed by the disease.