By Joyce Remi- Babayeju
National Malaria Elimination Programme, NMEP, has disclosed that Nigeria loses N480 billion annually to malaria due to absenteeism and treatment care.
This was disclosed in Abuja during a presentation by the Head, Integrated Vector Management, Branch, Mr. Okoko Okefu at the NMEP 4th Quarter Media Chat.
Speaking on Malaria Situation in Niger, Okefu further disclosed that the fever still constitutes an important public health issue with a high incidence of about 97% of the population at risk.
According to him, Malaria prevalence is highest in the North West with 37% and lowest in the in the South East at 17%, it accounts for 30% of childhood mortality and 11% maternal mortality.
However, the National Demographic Health Survey, NDHS shows that under-five mortality has reduced from 201/1000 in 2003 to157/1000 in 2008 and 128/1000 in 2013, with a malaria prevalence of 27% in 2015.
National Coordinator of NMEP, Dr Audu Mohammed in the same vein at the Workshop titled Preventing Malaria Through Environmental Management, organized by NMEP in collaboration with Global Fund, GF, said that malaria deaths in Nigeria has reduced from about 98,378 in 2015 to 81,640 in 2017, adding that it constitutes about 19% of malaria-related global deaths.
Mohammed said, “ Currently about 191 million Nigerians are estimated to be at risk of the disease, and that based on the 2018 World Malaria Report released by the World Health Organization, WHO, the estimated number of malaria cases has risen from 52.4 million to 53.7 million in 2017.
Malaria is a parasitic and infectious disease transmitted through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito during a blood meal, adding that it is endemic in Nigeria as a major public health problem, he said.
He lamented that “The world malaria report 2017 and that of 2018 have shown that global progress against malaria had stalled and the world was off-track to meet the milestone for 2020 as reflected in the global technical strategy for malaria 2016-2030.
“Nigeria contributes significantly to that stalling process. The report noted that to get back onto a trajectory that will ensure that the global GTS morbidity and mortality milestones for 2025 are achieved; a response is required to change the trend in countries that are off-track, especially in the 11 highest burden countries of which Nigeria is included.
While recognizing that there are threats militating against the process of eliminating malaria, Nigeria needs to redouble its efforts to make an appreciable impact in the malaria landscape. We will need to ensure the Nigerian populace has increased access to and uptakes malaria interventions on a geometric basis”.
“The first strategic objective in NMEP’s 2014-2020 Strategic Plan highlights that at least 80% of Nigerians utilizes appropriate preventive measures by 2020. Such preventive measures include but not limited to the following: use of long-lasting insecticidal nets, LLINs, indoor residual spray, IRS, and larval source management, uptake of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine, SP, by pregnant women for prevention of malaria, as well as environmental management.
“Environmental management seeks to reduce the abundance of all mosquitoes as well as targeted malaria vector species”.
He, therefore, urged government at both federal and state levels to construct new and renovation/resurfacing of road systems with good drainage systems assisted in reducing breeding site of the vector.
He advised Nigerians to adopt sanitation measures that will reduce the breeding of mosquitoes for the prevention of malaria.