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World Malaria Report: More Nigerians die from malaria than any other nationals

Malaria cases increase in Nigeria

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NIGERIA has earned the position of the worst-hit country with malaria cases with over 57 million citizens suffering from the disease in 2018. Malaria accounts for the highest number of deaths last year, according to the World Malaria Report.

The annual report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday revealed that more Nigerians had malaria in 2018 than in 2017, despite being one of the countries that received large amounts of international funding to address the scourge in the country.

“Over the 2010–2018 period, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria received the largest amount of international funding,” it read in part.

The global report showed than there was a “notable” increase in malaria incidence in the country where it was six per cent higher than cases in 2017. In 2017, about 5.3 million Nigerians had malaria but the number has increased to 57 million in 2018.

Also, Nigeria was identified to have more citizens that died from the condition in 2018 than in any other country with estimated 95,000 deaths of the total 405,000 deaths worldwide.

This shows about 11 people die every hour from malaria every day in Nigeria. 

In every 81 people that died of malaria globally in 2018, 19 were Nigerians.

Malaria is a preventable and curable disease that simple care could address, however, the report stated that there was a large gap in the treatment of malaria in Nigeria. 

“Testing was also worryingly low in children who were brought for care, with 30 per cent or less being tested in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.

Infographics credit: Rebecca Akinremi

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While countries like Algeria, Togo Cabo Verde, Mauritania were stated to be on track to reduce malaria cases with more than 40 per cent by 2020, Nigeria was grouped among less than 40 per cent reduction.

The National Demographic and Health Survey that was released in November also speculated a possible increase in malaria in 2018.

Based on the 2018 NDHS, 24.2 per cent of Nigerian children had fever, a figure higher than in 2015 where the total percentage was 12.5 per cent.  Fever is a major symptom of malaria disease.

It noted that the condition was high in the Northeast with 35 per cent of children with fever, southwest was 9 per cent.

“Malaria, a preventable, treatable, and curable disease, is endemic in Nigeria and remains the foremost public health problem in the country, taking its greatest toll on children under age 5 and pregnant women,” it stated. 

To prevent malaria, WHO has recommended the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying, while pregnant women should take three doses of anti-malarial medicine named Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp).

But the NDHS noted that the intake of the recommended doses of medicine during pregnancy to prevent malaria was at 17 per cent of the population,  against 21 per cent in the 2015 National Malaria Indicator Survey. The intake of two doses of the drug also reduced to 40 per cent when compared to 2015 of 41 per cent.

Infographics credit: Rebecca Akinremi

Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) is a full therapeutic course of antimalarial medicine given to pregnant women at routine antenatal care visits to prevent malaria. 

Besides protecting the mother, it also protects the babies and helps prevent placental parasitaemia, low birth weight, foetal anaemia, and neonatal mortality. It could also prevent maternal anaemia, a condition that could end a mother’s life during childbirth.

The Nigeria National Malaria Policy launched in 2015 and titled Nigeria’s Road to Malaria Elimination by 2020aimed at reducing malaria to pre-elimination levels. The strategic plan also stated that the malaria-related deaths which were 95,844 in 2018  would be zero by 2020.

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