Access Bank has blazed a trail in the fight against malaria in the country by launching a N50 million fund to fight the dreaded disease.
The foremost financial institution with a strong bias for excellent services delivery,under the leadership of the CEO, Herbert Wigwe, has championed an innovative financing platform that seeks to galvanize the private sector resources and capabilities for sustained support towards averting at least one million malaria cases and deaths by 2020.
This move, according to Wigwe, is the first step towards complementing government’s effort in achieving its malaria pre-elimination goals by 2020, tagged 'Malaria-To-Zero’ Initiative.
In a groundbreaking ceremony where Access Bank and Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company, Huawei Technologies, signed a N50 million partnership donated by Huawei, Wigwe said the platform will integrate existing and new initiatives on eradicating malaria, and thus build synergies that produce impact far greater than what could be attained with fragmented efforts.
While understanding that malaria is a completely preventable and treatable life-threatening disease which is responsible for significant loss of lives, especially of women and children globally, it has also caught the attention of other corporate bodies as they are also making commitment to be part of impact makers to eradicate malaria totally as they believe that collaborations and platforms like this are key catalysts to accelerating the impact of malaria intervention.
Based on statistics, Sub-Saharan Africa bears a disproportionately high share of the global disease burden, accounting for 88% of cases and 90% of deaths in 2015.
In Africa, malaria accounts for one-fifth of all child deaths. Besides the unquantifiable loss of human lives, the disease costs the African continent $12 billion annually in productivity losses.
According to 2015 estimates, Nigeria had over 100 million malaria cases and about 300,000 malaria deaths, representing the highest number of malaria casualties worldwide.
Wigwe reaffirmed the commitment of his bank to fight malaria in Nigeria by stating:
"Malaria kills business productivity and denies children access to education; we are strongly committed to Malaria to Zero so as to continuously strengthen a conducive platform aimed at supporting the National Malaria Elimination Strategy."
On his part, the CEO of PHN, Dr. Muntaqa Sadiq, stated that ‘the currency in the health sector is the number of lives saved and the goal of Malaria to Zero is to save 1,000,000 lives from malaria death’.
PHN has also acknowledged that accelerating progress towards pre-elimination requires rethinking the way malaria interventions are developed, executed and financed, from a public, fragmented, tactical approach to an innovative public-private bespoke approach.
The official launch took place April 25, 2016 (2016 World Malaria Day) at Access Bank Headquarters, with leaders of over 20 private sector organizations, as well as representatives of the Lagos State Government, Dr. Jide Idris, the Commissioner for Health in the state, and implementing partners in attendance.