Nigeria contributes 25 percent of global malaria burden – FG

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Nigeria currently accounts for 25 percent of global deaths due to malaria. This translates to 53 million deaths yearly, with nine (9) people dying every hour from the disease, the Federal Government stated.

It further disclosed that the covid-19 pandemic, asides its attendant economic consequences, also hugely impacted on the nation’s malaria program especially during the lockdown across the states.

It stated that the pandemic threatened to reverse the gains made in malaria control through lack of access to treatment services, disruptions in supply chain and interventions, and the diversion of government resources.

It however said that progress has been made in reducing the prevalence of malaria in the country from 42 percent in 2010, to 23 percent in 2018, with a dramatic fall in the mortality rate.

The Malaria Technical Director of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, Prof Olugbenga Mokuolu, made this known during the media parley organised by NMEP in Abuja.

He said, “According to the latest World Malaria Report, about 229 million cases of malaria still occur in our world annually, and over the past five years, there has been a relative flattening of that curve. But the interesting thing is that Nigeria contributes about 25 percent of that total global number of malaria cases. We contribute about 53 million cases of malaria annually.

“We are grateful to God that there is reduction in malaria-related mortality, from the latest report. It is beginning to drop below 400,000. But Nigeria still contributes about a fifth of that total number of mortality for malaria globally. In Nigeria, we estimate that 81,640 die of malaria annually. But we have been making progress overtime. Also, the burden of malaria is not uniform across the country. Also, Nigeria accounts for nineteen (19) percent of global deaths due to malaria. Malaria kills nine (9) people every hour in Nigeria.

“At the individual level, there was the challenge of failure to seek care because everybody was afraid. There was also the fear of stigma and people saw the hospital as a place where potentially you could contract covid-19. There was that hold back. There was a delay in seeking care, so people sought self-care. There were economic consequences from the lockdown.

“For us in malaria, there was a threat to planned activities and the overall implications of all of these was that covid-19 threatened a reversal of the gains in malaria control. Regarding malaria prevalence, in 2010, we had a prevalence of 42 percent. In 2015, it had come down to 27 percent, and in 2018, 23 percent. We had a more dramatic fall in the area of deaths.

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“However, because of covid-19, we stood the risk of a two to three fold increase in mortality if nothing was done. This was the context in which we needed to respond as a national malaria program to the covid-19 challenge.”

In his remarks, the National Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP), Dr. Audu Bala Mohammed, “We had planned to replace in the year 2020 over 31.5 million insecticide treated nets (ITNs) to cover 56.7 million people across eleven states: Adamawa, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Enugu, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kwara, Oyo, Plateau, Osun, and Zamfara. Except for States without donor support (Bayelsa, Borno, Enugu and FCT). I am glad to report that apart from Oyo all the States were covered with some having coverage of over 95 percent of those targeted. And the reason why Oyo was not covered was not basically because of COVID-19 related issues.

“Over 17 million ITNs were distributed in these six states. I am also glad to report that for Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) – a preventive measure targeting children between 3 and 59 months of age within the Sahel region – we covered all the 9 states that had been planned to reach. The 9 States targeted were: Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.”

Represented by the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation of the NMEP, Dr. Perpetual Uhomoihbi, he added: “Almost thirteen (13) million eligible children were reached. With respect to malaria case management available records from the district health information system (DHIS) showed a monthly average of 2,241,653 fever cases that reported at the health facilities nationally, of which 1,988,254 (88 percent) were tested. Of the tested cases, 1,468,110 cases were positive and 1,447,233 (99 percent) of these were treated with anti-malarials.

“Correspondingly, in 2019 the records indicated a monthly national average of 2,337,794 fever cases that reported at the health facilities of which 2,117,783 (91 percent) were tested, and of the 1,645,770 that were positive 1,543,789 (94 percent) were treated with anti-malarials, which represented a slightly higher number of fever and malaria cases seen in 2019 compared to 2020.

“Studies have shown that this reduces child mortality from all causes by 17 percent compared to no nets. In addition, in areas of stable malaria transmission like Nigeria, consistent and correct use of ITNs reduced parasite prevalence by 13 percent, uncomplicated malaria episodes by 50 percent, and severe malaria by 45 percent compared to equivalent populations with no nets (NDHS, 2018).”

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