The representatives in the House of Congress have urgently appealed to the Federal Government for the provision of cost-free medication and medical care for malaria across all government-run hospitals throughout the entire nation. Amobi Ogah, the representative of Isiuakwato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, Abia State, presented a crucial and urgent national matter during a plenary session in the House. In this matter, the House acknowledged the gravity of malaria, a highly significant illness which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito carrying small parasites known as plasmodia.
It was observed that neglecting the treatment of malaria may lead to dire medical consequences such as seizures, impairments to the brain, respiratory difficulties, failure of vital organs, and ultimately, death. This infectious disease prevails extensively in tropical regions and can affect individuals indiscriminately. As per the Health Essentials Report a staggering 241 million cases of malaria were reported globally in 2020, leading to a devastating death toll of 627,000 individuals. Over 90% of these fatalities occurred in Africa, with a startling 80% affecting innocent children under five years old.
45% of Nigerian population contracts malaria every year.
In the ongoing discussion, Mr. Ogah brought up the fact that the House had acknowledged cerebral malaria as the most critical variant, capable of leading to a coma. Shockingly, it accounts for approximately 15 percent of child fatalities and nearly 20 percent of adult mortalities. Figures from the Malaria treatment statistics of 2023 reveal that 45 percent of Nigeria entire population contracts malaria every year. In the year 2021, there were approximately 68 million cases of this infection, which unfortunately resulted in the loss of 194,000 lives.
On a global scale, Nigeria bears the highest malaria burden, accounting for nearly 27 percent of the burden. Furthermore, the House acknowledges the intertwining link between malaria and poverty, where they act as both cause and consequence. This dangerous scenario is of utmost concern, as a predominantly ill population lacks the strength to foster a robust economic standing. The House recognizes with great concern that the current expense associated with treating malaria in Nigeria is quite unsettling. To elaborate, if individuals choose to self-administer medication, the average cost amounts to roughly ₦5,000. However, if they decide to consult with a healthcare professional and undergo a laboratory test, the expenses escalate to over ₦10,000.
Govt should ensure free malaria treatments are available.
Meanwhile with the current situation, a significant number of Nigerians are unable to afford this amount. Hence, they may turn to the utilization of local plants or low-quality medications, which can potentially result in severe health issues or even fatalities. At present, the nation’s people endure a threatening state of economic adversity. The majority of average and lower-class individuals can barely manage to afford just one meal per day due to the soaring cost of living resulting from the elimination of oil subsidies. Consequently, the accessibility to malaria medication becomes even more unattainable.
This calls for the government to step in and ensure that free malaria treatments and medication are made available in government hospitals, thereby preventing an impending malaria catastrophe. Ogah asserts that while HIV and tuberculosis currently receive free treatment in Nigeria, their prominence, prevalence, and fatality are not as significant as that of malaria in today’s context. After the motion’s approval, the House strongly recommended that the Federal Government allocate a portion of the funds saved from the removal of fuel subsidies towards offering free malaria treatment and medication at all government hospitals across Nigeria.
Nigeria has the highest malaria mortality rate in sub-Saharan.
Despite numerous government efforts, Malaria continues to pose a significant threat to public health within the nation. Nigeria accounts for the highest malaria mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africa. In an attempt to combat the issue, the government has implemented initiatives such as the distribution of free mosquito nets. Moreover, a strategic blueprint known as the National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP) has been established, aiming to reduce malaria-related deaths to below 50 per 1000 people and achieve a parasite prevalence of less than 10% by 2025.