The Anambra Government on Thursday honoured 22 people and partner organisations for their contribution to reducing malaria scourge in the state.
Presenting the awards in Awka, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Joseph Akabuike said government was concerned about the deaths caused by malaria, especially among pregnant women and children below the age of five.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the award ceremony was part of activities to end this year’s World Anti-Malaria Day in the state.
NAN further reports that the awards were presented in different categories including Anti-Malaria Ambassadors; Health Excellence Award; Community Health Philantropist; Excellent Service Award and Plaque of Particpation.
Akabuike said: “The goal is to reduce malaria burden to pre-elimination levels and bring malaria related mortality to zero.
“Recent increases in resources, political will and commitment have led to discussions and partnerships which promises the possibility of malaria elimination and ultimate eradication.”
He said the state government launched the Special Malaria Intervention Project to reduce the scourge of the disease.
Akabuike added that Governor Willie Obiano’s administration programmes to improve health of the people had resulted in the renovation and construction of healthcare centres across the state.
He said: “We have upgraded 16 this year and transformed a total of 120 since inception of this administration. Plans are on to make Onitsha General Hospital a Specialist Hospital.”
He commended the awardees for their donations and free services, and urged them to sustain the partnership and support to the administration.
NAN reports that the occasion was organised in partnership with Queen Cynthia Azubuogu Foundation and the Anambra Transformation Ambassadors.
Also speaking, Cynthia Azubuogu of Queen Cynthia Azubuogu Foundation, commended the partners for committing their resources and services towards eliminating the disease.
Azubuogu said: “The three year-old Foundation has focused more on eliminating malaria scourge in the state, but malaria is not a scourge for a few people to fight. All hands must be on deck to win the battle against the disease.”
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Ebuka Okafor, who bagged Health Excellence Award, said the honour would spur them to do more.
Okafor said: “Malaria is a deadly disease that requires the collaboration of all.
“We must sustain the support and services and create more awareness to demonstrate how committed we are to touching lives of people in the state and across Nigeria.”
Okafor, who is the Managing Director of Ebuka Okafor Foundation, said his foundation had so far supported over 5,000 widows, pregnant women and youths over the years and pledged to sustain the effort.
In a remark, the traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Ben Emeka, commended the ministry and partner organisations for recognising the people.
Emeka, who also bagged a similar award in 2017, urged other well-meaning individuals and organisations in the state to support government’s efforts in the health sector.
NAN reports that the awardees also included Daniel Chukwudozie of Dozzy Group, Prof. Joseph Ikechebele of Life International Hospital and Chief Chukwuma Obiora of Greenlife, among others.
A football match, distribution of treated mosquito nets and malaria drugs in major markets across the state were earlier carried out as part of activities to mark the event.