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Impact of malaria prevalence in Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

Nigeria accounts for about 31 percent of malaria cases globally.

Dating years back, malaria remains an unflagging concern, leading to untold morbidity and mortality for millions of people. In 2021, 247 million malaria cases were recorded globally, with the African region constituting about 95 percent, a disproportionately large share of the global burden. Nigeria, the most populous nation in the region, accounts for 31 percent of the global malaria cases. Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Notably, the disease is preventable and curable.

In Nigeria, malaria’s social and economic ramifications are typically disregarded despite the fact that they are just as significant as the health consequences. The devastating effects of malaria on Nigerian society, especially on the country’s women and children, are well chronicled. Pregnant women and infants are more vulnerable to the disease. Complications from acute malaria during pregnancy, including anemia, premature birth, and low birth weight, have been linked to increased infant mortality rates and protracted health issues.

Cognitive damage in children may have effects on their ability to grow.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that malaria is responsible for 11 percent of maternal mortality and 30 percent of deaths among children under the age of five in Nigeria. However, cognitive damage in children who survive malaria may have long-lasting effects on their ability to learn and grow, limiting their potential for success in school and life. Malaria may cause sickness in children, causing them to skip school, which can have a negative effect on their education.

Nigeria’s economy and workforce are both seriously impacted by malaria. Absenteeism from work due to illness is a major source of unrealized financial losses and diminished output. Symptoms like tiredness and lack of appetite might make it hard to go about one’s routine. As a result, people would be less able to work and support themselves financially, which would have far-reaching effects on their families and communities. Low economic growth and higher healthcare costs have been associated with the condition. Also, it places pressure on individuals and the healthcare system as a whole by raising healthcare expenses.

The poor are disproportionately affected by the disease.

In addition, the effects of malaria are typically exacerbated in economically precarious communities. Disparaging assumptions about the disease’s victims’ physical or mental health may contribute to prejudice and stigma. The poor are disproportionately affected by the disease because they reside in locations with inadequate access to healthcare and cannot afford preventive measures like insecticide-treated bed nets. Families struggling to make ends meet may find it much more challenging to cope with the emotional strain of malaria.

However, despite the widespread nature of the disease, Nigeria has made great strides in alleviating the burden and effects of malaria in recent years. The government has increased its investment rate in providing curative and preventive measures against the disease. Health system improvements and expanded access to medical treatment are also part of the government’s plan to reduce malaria occurrences. Malaria’s destructive effects on Nigeria’s economy and society call for a holistic approach to end the epidemic.

Mitigating the effect necessitates coordinated efforts.

Some approaches to mitigating the effect on social and economic circumstances include investments in healthcare facilities, availability of preventive measures such as insecticide-treated bed nets, and education and awareness campaigns. It also necessitates a dedication from the government, healthcare contributors, and other stakeholders to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality that exacerbate the catastrophic impact of this disease. Most crucially, improving the lives of millions of Nigerians would call for a coordinated efforts from the government, healthcare providers, and the international community.

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