By RAZORNEWS MANAGEMENT BOARD
As countries in various continents mark this year’s edition of World Malaria Day on Sunday April 25, 2021, Prince Ned Nwoko; an illustrious son of Nigeria stands tall to be celebrated by those who share in his audacious tendencies to practically lend a helping hand in the eradication of the malaria scourge from Nigerian and the African continent.
With an intention that has already been demonstrated practically in January, 2020 through his symbolic expedition to the extremely cold Antarctica in the South Pole of the universe to create an awareness for Malaria Eradication in Nigeria and Africa, Prince Ned Nwoko has undoubtedly stood up to be counted in the global arena as the first Nigerian to take such bold step.
It is no longer news that, guided by the spirit of humanity in him, the former House of Representatives member had on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, through his Ned Nwoko Foundation formally began a hard tasking journey towards a malaria-free Nigeria and Africa. In the project, he has vowed to work with national and multilateral organizations to achieve results. His feeling and desire to join hands with the global communities to fight malaria stem from worry about the place of Africa in the global malaria index which ignobly shows Nigeria as occupying the worst position by accounting for about 25% of the world’s malaria prevalence.
Malaria is a deadly infectious disease that has been afflicting mankind for thousands of years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 200 million cases of malaria infection worldwide annually. Nearly 600,000 deaths result from the cases yearly with 90 per cent of the deaths occurring in Africa.
Prince Ned Nwoko is worried that the draining effects of the scourge of malaria in Nigeria and Africa, come with certain questions which bother on the attempt to eliminate or drastically depopulate the African continent. It is an attempt to search for answers to some of the questions that he got inspired to embark on the malaria eradication project. As a man not given to half measures, he strongly believes and confidently too, that he can succeed in the challenging task given people’s collective resolve and commitment towards fighting the scourge particularly with some concerns from the government in the Roll Back Malaria project over the years. With collaboration and commitment of the various stakeholders in the Malaria Eradication Project, he strongly believes that the scourge would be drastically reduced if not completely eradicated.
In his bid to collaborate with key stakeholders in his effort to eradicate malaria in Africa, Nwoko sometime in 2020 paid a courtesy visit to the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and used the opportunity to present the malaria project to the Minister who in his response pledged his support and acknowledged the fact that there is a need for Nationwide Clean up and Sanitation.
Prince Ned Nwoko had similarly led members of his Foundation to visit the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire declaring his intention to collaborate in the fight against malaria. During the visit, the Minister had directed the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) of his Ministry which deals with Malaria Control Strategy to engage with the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation in the partnership being sought for, with the Ministry; with ideas on eliminating malaria.
At a meeting with the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation, Tuesday, 8th December, 2020 at the Federal Ministry of Health, it came to light that the Integrated Vector Management Branch which has Units such as the Indoor Residual Spray Unit, with Laver Source Management Unit and The Use of Net (the most popular) welcomes the idea of partnership proposal and can come in to address the concerns which the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation brought to the Ministry.
Prince Ned Nwoko leading his Foundation members had approached the Honourable Minister seeking collaborative engagement with the Federal Government to see how the vector-causing the scourge of Malaria – the Mosquito could be eliminated in their numbers. It proposed three major approaches of Vaccine Research; Sanitation in the Environment; and Fumigation to get rid of mosquitoes which are primary vectors causing malaria. The Minister reportedly welcomed the proposal for collaboration from the Foundation because of the Health Ministry’s belief that the burden of Malaria elimination requires more than Government input. The involvement of the private sector is perceived to be a huge contribution
As a measure towards demonstrating his readiness of ridding the continent of deadly disease caused by the malaria parasite The Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation plans to fund research for a malaria vaccine to the tune of U.S$750,000 to be accessed by five universities across Africa. Each university would have access to US $125,000. The grants shall be accessed by selected scientific scholars in Africa. Nwoko is optimistic that within a time frame of five years, breakthrough would have been recorded in the anti-malaria vaccine. Of course, this goal would be pursued simultaneously with the mosquito elimination quest with a view to ensuring that all African countries join the league of malaria-free nations.
Investing in development of reliable anti-malaria vaccine by the universities is though part of the long term strategy of eradicating malaria from the African continent, however, his short-term delivery plan is national mobilisation for the fumigation of Nigeria and other African countries. He plans to push for legislation at the National Assembly, Abuja, for a National Fumigation Day or week in Nigeria. He will encourage the same measure in other African countries. To achieve sustainable success, community members will be made stakeholders of their environments in the mosquito elimination campaign. Community town hall meetings shall be held to appoint sanitation ambassadors and officers.
In the course of his various interventions as a humanist and philanthropist, Nwoko, through his Foundation, over time discovered that malaria scourge constitutes one of the greatest impediments to the healthy life and development of Africans and their societies just as he believes that most health challenges suffered by Africans, including deaths, organ damage and other physical and mental impairments, are directly or indirectly traceable to malaria. Some of the health complications and deaths are as a result of side effects of anti-malaria medications.
He strongly believes also that malaria causes huge economic losses by draining considerable funds that could have been used to support growth and general societal development. Equally, 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 sustained periods. These factors obviously stoked the humanist in him to empathize and assist along with wife, Regina Daniels Nwoko, to embark on the mosquito elimination and malaria eradication programme in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
As part of the activities marking the World Malaria Day on Sunday 25th April, 2021 Prince Ned Prince Ned Nwoko has launched ‘Ned Nwoko Antarctica Challenge’ to empower creative industry. His Foundation is inviting creative talents across Nigeria to interpret his Antarctica Expedition/Experience in different creative genres such as music, short film, drawings, poetry, etc. A Winner gets 5million Naira Worth of Prizes which include: Cash Prize of 2.5m, Luxury Trip to Mount Ned on a Private Jet and A Weekend at a Luxury Hotel in Abuja.
The promo has been on in the social media and top 10 best entries are expected to be invited to Abuja for the grand finale on World Malaria Day 25th April 2021. This is another philanthropist way of being a blessing to humanity.