Friday, July 23, 2021

Nigeria’s malaria prevalence dropped by 23% in 2018 – WHO

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The World Health Organisation, WHO, said Nigeria recorded a drop in malaria prevalence from 42 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2018.

Dr Walter Kazadi, WHO’s Country Representative, said this at a press briefing to commemorate the 2021 World Malarial Day on Friday in Abuja.

The World Malaria Day, which takes place on April 25 yearly highlights global efforts to control malaria and celebrate gains made.

Since 2000, the world has made historic progress against malaria, saving millions of lives.

However, half of the world’s population still lives at risk from this preventable, treatable disease, which costs a child’s life every two minutes.

According to Kazadi, the theme of this year’s World Malaria Day, “Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria,” is a reiteration of the personal commitments made during the 2020 commemoration.

“It re-emphasises the need for collective responsibility towards ending the devastating scourge of a disease that is preventable and curable.

“Today, therefore, is a reminder to every individual, community, stakeholder, organisation and government to accelerate actions required to end the disease,” said Kazadi.

He said the Slogan “Stand Up! Take Action!” was a call to action for all stakeholders to reaffirm their commitments to malaria control and health in general.

“As we have heard at different fora, Malaria remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.

“With all Nigerians at risk, it accounts for more than 60 per cent of hospital visits, 20 per cent of under five mortality and 11 per cent of maternal mortality,” he explained.

The WHO representative said it was even more worrisome that despite funding from government and partners, 44 per cent of out of pocket expenditure of households was on malaria.

“It is estimated that malaria causes a significant loss in economic growth and puts a strain on household finances.

“Equally, the overall progress made in the first 15 years of this century, global trends in malaria case and mortality rates have been plateauing since 2015, particularly in the highest burden countries; Nigeria is one,” he noted.

Kazadi added that the World Malaria Report of 2020 estimated that 215 million malaria cases and 384, 000 malaria deaths occurred in 2019 within the WHO African Region and this accounted for 94 per cent of cases and deaths globally.

He stressed that Nigeria continued to bear the disproportionate brunt of the malaria toll accounting for 27 per cent and 23 per cent of global cases and deaths respectively.

“There has been a growing political commitment at country, regional and international levels to tackle malaria.

“The most recent being Mr President’s commitment to increase domestic financing and explore other innovative ways of increasing financing for health; this brings a unique ray of hope towards disease control,” he said.

The WHO representative to Nigeria said the COVID-19 pandemic was testing the resilience of health systems across the globe.

He said WHO developed the High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) approach aimed at enabling countries to rethink the strategies for malaria control and elimination.

“This process provided the right impetus for the development of the current malaria strategic plan.

“This provides clear direction towards using stratified and evidence-based information to drive impact, through a combination of tailored interventions that work, in the context of sustainable and resilient health system,” he noted.

According to him, collective action across sectors is crucial to address the challenges and accelerate progress towards ending the malaria scourge in Nigeria.

“The organisation in collaboration with other partners will also step-up action in supporting the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to mobilise the needed domestic and international resources required for effective malaria control in the country.

“Let me pledge WHO’s commitment to continuing partnership with FMoH/National Malaria Eradication Programme (NMEP) and all other malaria partners through provision of technical support and innovations towards the attainment of the set targets,” he assured.

Kazadi, however, said Malaria was preventable and curable.

“Simple interventions such as sleeping inside insecticide-treated nets, ensuring that every suspected case of malaria is tested and if positive treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACTs).

“Prevention of malaria in pregnancy through the use of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP-IPTp) among other preventive strategies. Not every fever is malarial,” he added.

NAN

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