The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday said malaria death rates in Nigeria dropped by 55 per cent between years 2000 and 2021.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, who made this known during the launch of the 2022 Nigeria Malaria Report in Abuja, said incidence recorded from malaria also dropped by 26 per cent within the same period.
Ms Moeti said although Nigeria accounted for about 27 per cent of the global burden of malaria cases, the country has made significant progress.
She noted that Africa carries a high proportion of the global malaria burden, accounting for about 95 per cent of all malaria cases, and 96 per cent of all malaria deaths in 2021.
“While Nigeria accounts for around 27 per cent of the global burden of malaria cases, the country has seen major progress,” she said.
“Malaria incidence has fallen by 26 per cent since 2000, from 413 per 1000 to 302 per 1000 in 2021. Malaria deaths also fell by 55 per cent, from 2.1 per 1,000 population to 0.9 per 1,000 population.”
Malaria, a disease caused by a parasite spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, kills more than 400,000 people yearly, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation also accounts for a high per cent of malaria burden globally.
Ms Moeti said drivers of this continuing disease burden include the size of Nigeria’s population and inadequate funding, amongst others.
“Drivers of this continuing disease burden include the size of Nigeria’s population, making scaling up intervention challenging; suboptimal surveillance systems, which pick up less than 40 per cent of the country’s malaria data; inadequate funding to ensure universal interventions across all states; and health-seeking behaviour, where people use the private sector, with limited regulation, preferentially.”
Ms Moeti noted that addressing the prevention, elimination, and control of malaria and the burden from other diseases requires critical data and information gathering for evidence-based investment and decision-making.
In his remarks, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, said governance, not finance, is a major challenge hampering the fight against malaria in the country.
Mr Pate said his team intends to fix this by working with development partners and the private sector to garner the resources needed to tackle the menace.
Mr Pate also commended the government of the United States of America, and other partners for investing about $900 million in Nigeria’s malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis programmes.
“We appreciate the generosity of the American people and American government and other governments that contribute to the global fund because the global fund comprises seven countries, not only the United States government,” he said.
He said the health ministry will continue to support the vision of President Bola Tinubu to ensure the sector is improved.
“To govern the health sector better, we have to look at the intergovernmental aspects, as well as what we do as a federal government. We have to do it with our development partners and others who are going to come after to serve Nigerians, to improve their health and well-being, and have good data to tell the story of where we are going.”
He noted that to strengthen the platform for the delivery of health services, the nation has to retrain and update standards of practice for its frontline health workers.
Speaking at the event, the Global Malaria Coordinator for the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, David Walton, commended Nigeria on the progress made in the healthcare sector, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Walton said Nigeria receives more global fund investments than any other country in the world.
“We are completely united with you in the objective of saving lives, improving the health systems, and improving health and well-being for people all across this country,” he said.
“This visit is a very deliberate effort to ensure we are coordinated in supporting you and particularly at this really important moment where we have a new government, new president and new leadership in the ministry.”
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