…USAID via PMI to provide technical support
…NLNG launched BNYMEP in 2019
…Malaria kills 0.3m Nigerians annually versus HIV/AIDS 215,000
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Gas liquefaction company, the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) has signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to make Bonny Island, its operational base, malaria free.
The MoU was signed in Abuja by NLNG’s managing director/chief executive officer, Tony Attah on behalf of the gas company, and the United States ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.
Through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), USAID will provide technical assistance to NLNG’s led Bonny Island Malaria Elimination Project (BNYMEP). BNYMEP seeks to reduce the malaria burden, move the community to pre-elimination status, bring malaria-related mortality to zero, and make Bonny Island Nigeria’s first malaria-free zone.
The MoU did not specify the milestones on how to achieve the project. Also, it did not state the total cost of the initiative spanning five years.
The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) is focused on reducing malaria-related mortality by 50 per cent across 24 high-burden developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria and three South-East Asian countries, through a rapid scale-up of four proven and highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures.
The MoU also includes a partnership between NLNG and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) regarding support to the HIV/AIDS surge project, which focusses on the control of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) on Bonny Island. The HIV/AIDS surge project is currently coordinated by the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) in Rivers State.
NLNG commenced the Bonny Malaria Elimination Project (BNYMEP) in January 2019 as part of its vision to transform the Island into a tourism and economic hub in the West African region. Attah, NLNG’s managing director believes that a malaria-free zone was key to attracting investments to the Island, which will positively impact the socio-economic well-being of its residents.
“We are ready to put Bonny Island on the map as one the first malaria-free community in Nigeria and a reference point in the global eradication of the disease. Malaria has impacted negatively on health care in Nigeria, and it is time to change the narrative. It is time to free ourselves of the economic burden that this scourge has imposed on us for years, freeing available resources to tackle other issues and to attain more Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs). We hope to set a precedence with a workable model for private sector participation in SDGs’ achievement. These goals align with our vision of helping to build a better Nigeria,” he said.
Malaria has remained one of the deadliest diseases globally. In Nigeria, malaria is a risk for 97 per cent of Nigeria’s population of over 206 million. The remaining 3 per cent of the population live in the malaria-free highlands. There are an estimated 100 million malaria cases with over 300,000 deaths per year in Nigeria. This compares with 215,000 deaths per year in the country from HIV/AIDS.
The United States ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard said, “reducing the burden of malaria and HIV/AIDS on Bonny Island are goals now within our reach.” She added that the partnership moves USAID and NLNG closer to achieving those goals. “I commend the efforts of NLNG to meet its social responsibility in helping the economic climate of Bonny Island by improving the health of its residents,” she said.
The gas company has intervened in combating the scourge, with programmes such as Roll Back Malaria campaign, as well as staking $100,000 in its sponsored corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, The Nigeria Prize for Science, in search for solutions to the disease.
The company, which is building its $7 billion Train 7 plant, said it has supported both the Nigerian federal government and Rivers State on the Roll Back Malaria campaign, to roll back malaria in all its host communities in the state through improved sanitation habits and use of mosquito/insecticide treated bed nets. The company distributed anti-malarial drugs and insecticide treated bed nets as part of that campaign. With industry partners, it is also sponsoring the Ibani Se initiative, a health care and awareness programme aimed at reducing the prevalence rate of HIV endemic on Bonny Island.
NLNG is owned by four shareholders: the Nigerian federal government, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49%), Shell Gas B.V. (25.6%), Total Gaz Electricité Holdings France (15%), and Eni International N.A. N.V. S.àr. l (10.4%).