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U.S. Ambassador to Niger Eric P. Whitaker Discusses Country's Upcoming SMC Campaign

Malaria is a major public health problem in Niger. It is the country’s primary cause of illness and accounts for half of all recorded deaths. While the entire population of Niger is at risk of malaria, children are especially vulnerable when they become infected because they have little to no immunity to the disease. In Niger, children under five years of age account for about 62 percent of the burden of malaria and 75 percent of malaria-related deaths. The country’s national malaria control program (NMCP) supports a number of prevention strategies, including seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) to reduce childhood deaths from malaria.

SMC was a centerpiece of discussions during U.S. Ambassador to Niger Eric P. Whitaker’s June 19-21 visit to the Tahoua Region. When stopping by the Regional Hospital Centre, Founkoye and Kofan Tahoua Integrated Health Centers, and the National Office of Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals Warehouse, Ambassador Whitaker spoke with a variety of health care providers and health officials. Through these converations, he developed a strong understanding of the state of malaria control and prevention in the region and became familiar with the impact that the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has had in Tahoua.

All stakeholders present cited the NMCP’s SMC campaign last year as an effective strategy that reduced childhood malaria mortality in 2018. PMI supported SMC in Niger through PMI Impact Malaria and, for the last several months, PMI Impact Malaria has been working closely with the NMCP to plan for Niger's upcoming SMC campaign. The first of the four campaign waves is scheduled to start on July 29. With that topic at hand, the people of Niger thanked the contribution of the American people and also expressed their wish that the U.S. continue to support efforts to end malaria in the region.

A young girl in Niger receives antimalarial medication during Niger's 2018 SMC campaign.

On Ambassador Whitaker’s three-day U.S. Embassy mission in Tahoua, he was accompanied by Ms. Els Mathieu, Activity Manager for PMI in Niger, and the Director of the American Cultural Center in Niger. Supporters included the Governor of the Tahoua Region, representatives of Niger’s Ministry of Heath, the country representative for Population Services International (PSI) in Niger, and the Chief of Party for PMI Impact Malaria in Niger.

Source: PMI’s Niger page

Author info: Koko Daniel, PMI Impact Malaria Niger Chief of Party; Maman Badamassi, Niger NMCP Community Activity Manager.

Photography credit: PMI Impact Malaria Niger for both photos.

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