At least 121 children under five years of age died of malaria in four months in a single government hospital in Jigawa State, official records show.
The records from the Dutse General Hospital, in Jigawa State, exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, showed a total of 15,754 malaria cases in the hospital in four months.
Dutse General Hospital is one of 12 general hospitals spread across the North-west state.
The medical director of the hospital, Abbas Ya’u, told PREMIUM TIMES, that the deaths were recorded from June to September in the hospital’s emergency unit where the children were admitted.
The figure of 121 in four months translates to an average of 30 children lost each month.
Mr Ya’u also said in the months under review, about 8,102 children, under five years, were admitted to the hospital for the treatment of malaria.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), children with severe malaria frequently develop severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria.
According to the latest world malaria report released in December 2019, there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018 compared to 231 million cases in 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 405,000 in 2018, compared with 416,000 deaths in 2017.
The WHO African region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2018, the region was home to 93 percent of malaria cases and 94 percent of malaria deaths.
In 2018, Nigeria was among the top six countries that accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide: Nigeria (25 percent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12 percent), Uganda (five percent), and Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique and Niger (four percent each).
The world health agency says children under five years of age are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2018, they accounted for 67 percent (272,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.
The medica director at the Jigawa Hospital, Mr Ya’u, said that malaria has a higher incidence during the rainy season when the facilities of the hospital become stretched with patients mainly admitted for malaria.
He added that the children under five are more likely to be affected and die from malaria because their immune systems are not strong enough to resist the parasite.
Such children need adequate nutrients, hydration and protection by nets and anti-malaria drugs.
The medical doctor also cautioned parents and caregivers that whenever they notice a change of behaviour, like symptoms of fever, they should act on time by going to the nearest health facilities.
“Malaria is the major cause of deaths among under-five children. Every second a child dies of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, that is why we need to take the preventive measure seriously to save the children,” the official said.