From the unearthly terrain of the Antarctica, otherwise known as the White Desert, Prince Ned Nwoko, Nigerian-born lawyer and entrepreneur, plans to launch a final onslaught against mosquitoes and malaria in Africa. The husband of star actress Regina Daniels is a man used to rising above the parapet to help his country pull the chestnut out of fire. For those who might have forgotten, he is the national hero who doggedly played the pivotal role in securing the payment of billions of dollars refunds back to Nigeria by the Paris Club of creditors. Refund of the excess payments by the powerful Western financial cartel substantially helped to steer Nigeria out of the precipice of recession.
Worried by the devastating effects of the malaria scourge in Africa, including the gory statistics of deaths and ruins, Prince Ned Nwoko has embarked on an audacious journey towards a malaria-free Africa in the foreseeable future. In the massive project to be executed through the Ned Nwoko Foundation, he plans to work with national and multilateral organisations to achieve results. He equally hopes to collaborate with governments, private organisations and civil society towards achieving his core objective of extending malaria intervention programmes beyond the threshold of control and palliatives to permanent eradication. Malaria being basically an African challenge today, Prince Ned Nwoko believes Africans ought to be in the driving seat in the quest for a permanent solution to the age-long scourge.
Presently, only six countries out of 54 that make up the African continent are recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as malaria-free while the remaining 47 are endemic countries. The malaria-free countries are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Seychelles, Lesotho and Libya.
Four African countries currently account for nearly half of all malaria cases worldwide as at 2017. They are Nigeria (25%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), Mozambique (5%) and Uganda (4%). According to 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. The WHO reports show that children are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. For centuries, apart from malaria, mosquitoes have been the vector of several other ailments ravaging Africa such as yellow fever, dengue fever, filariasis and zika.
As a philanthropist committed to rendering support and service to the needy, the society and humanity at large, Nwoko sees the subsisting malaria statistics, where Africa bears 90% of the overall global malaria burden, as no longer acceptable. In the course of his various interventions, Nwoko, through his foundation, discovered that malaria scourge constitutes one of the greatest impediments to the healthy life and development of Africans and their societies.
The former member of House of Representatives maintains 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.
Also, he believes 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-economical activities and general way of life of the people over sustained periods.
Nwoko’s inclination to empathize and assist made him and his wife, Regina Daniels Nwoko, to embark on the mosquito elimination and malaria eradication programme in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Nwoko has set short and long-term objectives for the Ned Nwoko Foundation in this project.
Nwoko’s 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.
The long-term strategy towards delivering the project is investing in development of reliable anti-malaria vaccine. The foundation plans to establish academic research grants for malaria vaccine in five universities spread across the African continent. The grants shall be accessed by selected scientific scholars in Africa.
Next month, January 2020, Nwoko and his amiable wife, Regina Daniels Nwoko, will kick off the malaria eradication campaign with a symbolic expedition to mosquito-free Antarctica located at the South Pole. They will be making an eight-day trip to Antarctica with some scientists.
The various interventions already in place, such as the Roll Back Malaria programme, and provision of treated mosquito nets, which have indeed helped a great deal to curb the scourge, are commendable but inadequate to end the pandemic. It is gratifying that a public-spirited, wealthy African in the person of Nwoko has stepped forward with a vow to work with relevant stakeholders to deal a final blow on malaria disease to pave way for a healthier and more prosperous Africa.
It is expected that African leaders would do their own parts by establishing National Day (or Week) of Fumigation across Africa. Other stakeholders and the populace at large also need to improve on health education and environmental sanitation, especially in our communities, to deny mosquitoes breeding places. People can also apply self-help by undertaking regular fumigation of mapped water-logged areas, bushes and other areas that provide natural breeding or hiding sites for mosquitoes.
From the realm of mass mobilisation and enlightenment, Nwoko’s guiding principle in this project is for everybody to own up to his land, facility or premises and wipe the vectors out from there. Thus the cardinal goal of the project is to accelerate action towards the attainment of malaria-free Nigeria and adopt the same model in other African countries.
It will be fortuitous for Nigeria and the African continent i all, if the Ned Nwoko Foundation gets the unalloyed cooperation and support of governments, the United Nations bodies, UNESCO, WHO and UNICEF, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Ecological Funds (Nigeria), Federal Ministries of Education and Health of African countries, the National Orientation Agency, the legislature and similar agencies in Nigeria and other African countries in this gargantuan project.
Worthy of note is Nwoko’s optimism 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.