June 3, 2016
(as prepared for delivery)
Good morning. Thank you for coming to this important event.
On April 25 this year, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to observe World Malaria Day. Of course, for many Nigerians, every day is malaria day—a day to keep up the fight against this killer disease.
Malaria is a leading cause of illness and death in Nigeria, particularly at this time of the year, as the rainy season begins creating conditions for mosquito populations to increase. The best way to prevent malaria is to put a barrier between yourself and the mosquitoes that carry it, particularly during the hours from dusk to dawn.
Nightly use of insecticide treated bed nets prevents you from getting bitten and infected, which in turn prevents you from infecting another mosquito that then passes malaria to your family and neighbors. Bed nets help to interrupt that cycle. So a bed net not only protects you–when bed nets are used by everyone, particularly those who are already sick with malaria, they also prevent others from becoming infected.
The nets that are being distributed now will contribute to the government of Nigeria’s goal of one net for every two persons. We are working hard with the Federal and State Ministries of Health and other partners to ensure these nets are hand-delivered to each household in every community across Nigeria. It is a massive undertaking.
Special attention is being paid to the vulnerable segments of the populations that have the greatest risk of severe sickness or death due to malaria–pregnant women and children under 5.
I encourage you to take your pregnant wives and/or partners to a health care facility that provides nets to its patients. Also, ensure that your wives and/or partners and new born infants receive care from skilled workers at a health care facility throughout this special time up to and including child birth to protect the babies—the newest members of the population.
Through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, we are also currently supporting the Federal and State Ministries of Health to ensure that pregnant women receive malaria prevention medications–to further protect women and children from malaria.
Overcoming malaria requires a partnership among everyone sector — governments at all levels, the people, and partners including the U.S. Government. Malaria can be conquered through the actions of communities, and the practices of each individual Nigerian.
The U.S. government works hard to help people fight malaria in far-flung communities across Nigeria, but we realize that we must also help our constituents including the local guard force members to protect themselves and their families against malaria.
As you receive these nets today, I encourage you to keep in mind that conquering malaria will not happen overnight, and it will only happen if we all work together. We look forward to a day when a cooperative spirit will help reduce the impact of malaria, but it is up to the people to hang up the nets, sleep under them every night, and then roll them up during the day to protect them from wear and tear.
The U.S. government is proud to support the efforts of the government and people of Nigeria to join together to protect the health of all, particularly the youngest and most vulnerable members of society.