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Increasing malaria burden in Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

Nigeria accounts for 31.3 per cent of global malaria deaths recorded in 2021.

A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report revealed the burgeoning Malaria infection level that continues to stand as a significant Public Health crisis in Nigeria. The country accounted for 31.3 per cent of global malaria deaths recorded in 2021. Generally, the African region continues to bear the burden of malaria infections as it represents a high percentage of the global malaria burden. Per statistics, the region was home to about 95% of the global malaria cases and 96% of deaths out of the 247 million malaria cases recorded in 2021.

The region’s children under five years of age accounted for about 80 percent of malaria deaths. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (12.6%), the United Republic of Tanzania (4.1%), and Niger (3.9%)are the other four African countries hit by the infection that drove four African states to account for over 50% of all malaria fatalities globally during the time. Additionally, more than 96% of all malaria cases were concentrated in only 29 nations.

Nationwide malaria prevalence in Nigeria has been steadily decreasing.

According to the findings of the most recent edition of the World Malaria Report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the total number of people infected with malaria rose from 245 million in the year 2020 to 247 million in the year 2021. Malaria was responsible for the deaths of 619,000 persons in 2021, which was a decrease from the previous year’s figure of 625,000 deaths. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, this has resulted in an increase of 2 million cases but a reduction of 6 million deaths.

However, the nationwide malaria prevalence in Nigeria has been steadily decreasing from 42% in 2010 to 27% in 2015, 23% in 2018, and 22% in 2021, according to a study of health indicators conducted for that year. The Nigerian government must strive to meet the WHO targets for reducing and ending malaria transmission worldwide, notwithstanding the minimal success. These include lowering the number of new cases of malaria by at least 90%, the number of deaths from malaria by at least 90%, the presence of malaria in at least 35 countries, and the return of malaria in any country that has previously not been declared malaria-free by 2030.

WHO highlighted the vaccine’s capacity to decrease malaria drastically.

In 2021, the World Health Organization authorized widespread administration of the RTS, S/ASOI Malaria Vaccine to kids in areas with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission, bringing the hope of a malaria vaccine one step closer to fruition. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the malaria vaccine’s capacity to drastically decrease malaria, particularly lethal severe malaria, in young children. The government of Nigeria must take additional measures to substantially lower the alarmingly high malaria count by mandating procedures to restrict the spread of the infection. Nigeria may become a “malaria-free country” by 2030 if the government and other stakeholders are dedicated to the cause.

As of 2015, the World Health Organization has recognized malaria-free status in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Paraguay, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Algeria, China, and El Salvador (2021). As stated in the WHO’s essential facts, malaria is a potentially fatal infection caused by plasmodium parasites and spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria symptoms, such as fever, headache, and chills, were noted by experts. These symptoms often manifest themselves 10 to 15 days following an infected mosquito bite.

ITNs, IRS are the two thriving interventions in halting malaria spread.

While malaria infection may be fatal, it is proven to be prevented, cured, and its spread is reduced if diagnosed and treated early. The World Health Organization has suggested that all cases of probable malaria be verified by microscopy or a fast diagnostic test that relies on the presence of malaria parasites. Two successful interventions in halting the spread of malaria are the distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS). Furthermore, preventative chemotherapies are easily accessible and may successfully avert the early signs of the disease.


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