The untold stories of malaria control and contraceptive usage in Oyo state
Even though the word on the street is ‘recession’ and everyone including government is saying that there is no money, Oyo state is actually attracting funds from donors and the latest revelation was made last week when the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, paid a courtesy visit to the Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr Michael Harvey in his office in Abuja.
You know big money is involved when our governor leaves his Ibadan office to greet someone else in his Abuja office. During the visit, Harvey revealed that Oyo state is blazing the trail nationwide in the area of malaria control.
According to him, Oyo state is the leader when it comes to the control of the spread of malaria and use of contraceptive methods across Nigeria. If the data sets made available to Harvey are really true, then I guess we have reasons to celebrate although I will still exercise caution considering the fact that reportage of malaria is deficient in the state since it is not everyone that is infected with the disease that is recorded. Many people treat malaria on their own without going to the hospital for testing and treatment.
And regarding the usage of contraceptives, we can also argue the figures since illiteracy and anti contraception religious beliefs are very much prominent in Oyo state and unwanted pregnancies are ubiquitous. Go to Molete, Bere, Oje, OritaPerin, Olorunsogo…everywhere – and you would see that a lot still needs to be done in the area of promotion of the usage of contraceptives especially among the uneducated members of the society.
This is not to imply that the state is not doing anything. Far from that. Because, according to Harvey, statistics available to the agency showed that malaria prevalence in children under the age of five years in Oyo State was 19 percent compared to the national average of 27 percent.
Even though I don’t trust the figures, I will still say it’s a great development but we shouldn’t celebrate that much also because this is a call to urgent action and not rolling out the drums or patting ourselves on the back that we’ve tackled malaria, ensured safe sex and adequately preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Last week, I spoke at a major conference in Lagos but just before I went on stage, I listened to a panel that focused on the impressively brilliant health initiative in Ondo state which from all indices presented is a unique success story. Governor Ajimobi does not have a unique health policy yet neither has he really done anything that is Eureka-worthy for his administration but I believe he still has more than enough time within his term to spin the story around and make significant difference in the sector which is quite different from the rest since peoples’ lives are at stake.