Malaria prevalence declining in Nigeria, says Ehanire

NEWS DIGEST – Nigeria recorded a slight decrease in malaria prevalence, from 23 per cent in 2018 to 22 per cent in 2021, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has said.

Mr Ehanire made this known at the Official Launch and Dissemination of the National Malaria indicator Survey, NMiS, Report and The National Advocacy Communication and Social Mobilization, ACSM, Strategy and Implementation Guide in Abuja.

The National Malaria Elimination Programmes, NMEP, organised the dissemination of the ACSM strategy and implementation guide (2021-2025), in collaboration with the National Population Commission, NPC.

Ehanire said, while this may not appear significant at the national level, at the sub-national substantial gains have been observed in several states.

The minister noted that malaria was a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Nigeria, with young children and pregnant women disproportionately affected.

Furthermore, he said the disease accounts for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 per cent of childhood deaths, 11 per cent of maternal death (4,500 die yearly), and 25 per cent of deaths in infants (children aged 1 year).

He said, the 2021 World Malaria Report from the World Health Organisation showed that nine to 10 persons die every hour due to malaria or malaria-related issues in Nigeria and that the country contributes 27 per cent to the global malaria burden and 32% to malaria deaths globally.

Also, Ehanire announced that children under five years of age, remained the most vulnerable group affected by malaria accounting for 67 per cent of all malaria deaths.

He also noted that it was pertinent to note that the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its partners had made consistent and concerted efforts over the years in providing resources towards the elimination of malaria in the country, and this had resulted to millions of lives being saved:

“The results of the 2021 NMIS show a further decline in the national prevalence of malaria to 22 per cent from 23 per cent in 2018, and 42 per cent in 2010.

“We are seeing gains being sustained in getting the general population to adopt key preventive measures. 56 per cent of households own at least one Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) while 36 per cent of household members, 41 per cent of children under five, and 50 per cent of pregnant women slept under an ITN the night before the survey.

“This underscores the importance of access, and therefore our drive to use all means including rolling mass campaigns to reach the teaming populations of Nigeria with nets”, Ehanire said.

Also speaking, Dr Perpetua Umomoibhi, NMiS in the health ministry said that the country has implemented four National Malaria Strategic Plans, NMSPs, and is presently implementing the fifth NMSP, which covers the period 2021 to 2025.

“The 2021to 2025 NMSP aims to achieve a parasite prevalence of less than 10 per cent and reduce mortality attributable to malaria to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2025.

“The need to measure the impact of these strategic plans requires the availability of data from routine sources, principally the District Health Information System (DHIS), operations research, and surveys, particularly the Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS),” she explained.

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