The National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) has revealed that it is using technology to tackle racketeering of Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLIN), commonly called Treated Mosquito Nets while denying any knowledge of how the free donor-funded nets get into the open markets across the country.
A Premium Times investigation had indicted public officials of colluding with traders to sell free donor-funded mosquito nets branded “not-to-be-sold” to Nigerians, hence slowing down efforts to eradicate malaria in the country.
NMEP’s representative, Hope Obokoh made the clarifications during an anti-corruption radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE on RADIO, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Explaining NMEP’s involvement in mosquito net distribution, Obokoh said NMEP only partners with states in coordination and implementation of net campaigns across the country, noting that the distribution of the free mosquito nets is done at the state level.
She stressed that the Programme (NMEP) is unaware of any sale of free mosquito nets in Ebonyi and Enugu states as claimed in the Premium Times investigation, emphasizing that the government had adopted the use of technology to promote accountability in the distribution of the nets.
Her words: “It takes a whole lot of process in planning and implementation of net campaigns in the country. It starts with the engagement of states, first of all, macro planning is done to get the population of a state before the implementation.
“At the end of every campaign, we have what we call leftover nets, these leftover nets are put together and are channelled to routine distribution, that is for pregnant women coming to register for antenatal and children finishing immunization.
“To ensure that every net is accounted for, what they use now for the distribution of nets is ICT4D, a technology that ensures efficiency and accountability. So, the government and the malaria partners through concerted efforts have done a lot to ensure that these nets are in the hands of the beneficiaries.”
Oboko also insisted that NMEP will swing into immediate action if they get information about corruption in the distribution of nets and are not aware of how vendors get the nets they hawk on the streets of Nigeria.
Earlier, one of the Premium Times journalists that conducted the investigation, Ebuka Onyeji said from their findings that donated mosquito nets were still being sold openly. Onyeji faulted the NMEP mechanisms of tackling racketeering of the nets and called for more coordination and collaborations to address the menace.
While an Abuja based medical practitioner, Dr Peter Essien frowned at the revelation from the investigation, saying that racketeering of the nets was working against efforts to reduce malaria cases drastically in Nigeria. He noted that eradication of malaria is possible in Nigeria and called on the government and citizens to fully support efforts in that direction.
“The malaria endgame is possible, that is, completely eradicating malaria from Nigeria. What it will take is the responsibility as individuals, as citizens of Nigeria, also, with whatever support we can have from the government, I believe that we can make Nigeria a better place for ourselves and our children by stamping out malaria. So let’s be responsible, let’s make good use of the interventions that are available for us,” Dr Essien cautioned.
Nigerians who phoned into the programme were displeased over NMEP’s denial of the sale of mosquito nets across the country.
In a backlash of the denial, a caller, Taiwo Aderibigbe said, “I want to thank PRIMORG for always enlightening and educating the public. Unfortunately, we keep defending what is wrong. Mosquito nets are up for sale not only in Wuse, Kuje, Gwagwalada and Nyanya markets, they are also on sale even in hospitals.”
Ejike from Karu, in Nasarawa state, said: “They are selling them everywhere. Let them come to Karu here, and the whole of Abuja, they are on the streets. Where did the nets come from? He queried.
While Abraham from Mpape added, “At Wuse market I bought a mosquito net written “not to be sold” at N1,500.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.