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The Governor of Cross River State, Senator (Prince) Bassey Otu, today officially flagged off the 2023 Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) Mass Distribution Campaign and First Round of Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW) at Channel View Hotels, Calabar.

This biannual campaign aims to reduce child mortality by combating malaria in pregnant women and newborns, ensuring that each household possesses Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) as a protective measure against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The integration of the Insecticide Treated Net campaign with the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW) guarantees that expectant mothers and newborns in Cross River State have access to a comprehensive range of health services. These services include immunisation, postnatal and prenatal care, family planning, counseling on nutrition, and other essential healthcare provisions.

About 2.9 million ITNs will be distributed across 1027 designated points in the state, encompassing churches, schools, health centers, and other designated locations. Therefore, all parents and pregnant women are strongly advised to visit these designated locations to receive their ITNs.

Deputy Governor of Cross River state, Peter Odey, in the middle

During his address, the Governor, represented by the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey, emphasized the severity of malaria as an ongoing public health challenge. He stated that, “Malaria as we all know is a monster that has been living with us for a very long time. Today, as we speak someone where is dying of malaria. If we don’t take responsibility, no one will do it.” The Governor stressed that the success of the campaign relies not only on the distribution of ITNs but also on the conscientious utilization of these nets by every expectant mother and child for a healthier future in Cross River State.

In her speech, the wife of the Cross River State Governor, Her Excellency, Rev. Mrs. Eyoawan Edet Otu, graciously accepted her role as the Net Ambassador for Cross River State. She pledged to “be the role model for correct and consistent usage of ITNs, and will strive to mobilize support in providing an enabling environment for malaria programmes to be implemented”.

The event was graced by the presence of the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), a major donor agency, and its implementing partners, including UNICEF, USAID, and WHO. Also in attendance were the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Anthony Owan Enoh, the Head of Service, Mr. Timothy Akwaji, and many other dignitaries.

Highlights of the ceremony included the symbolic presentation of an ITN to the Deputy Governor for distribution, the investiture of Rev. Mrs. Eyoawan Bassey Otu as the Cross River State Net Ambassador, a net hang-up demonstration by the Demand Team, and captivating traditional dance performances.