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.
Enahire 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 accounted 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 died every hour due to malaria or malaria-related issues in Nigeria and that the country contributed 27 per cent to the global malaria burden and 32% to malaria deaths globally.
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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 stated 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 that had resulted in saving millions of lives:
“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, in the health ministry, said that the country had implemented four National Malaria Strategic Plans, NMSPs, and was implementing the fifth NMSP, which covered the period 2021 to 2025.
“The 2021 to 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.
Umomoibhi said that the 2021 NMIS was the third malaria indicator survey conducted in the country, with the first in 2010 and the second in 2015.
“The sample size for the 2021 NMIS was much larger than in previous surveys, with a total of 568 clusters covered across the country (195 in urban areas and 373 in rural areas). The 2010 and 2015 surveys covered 240 and 333 clusters, respectively,” she explained.
She said some indicators showed poor performance relative to the results of previous surveys.
The impact of COVID-19 might have clouded some of the gains previously recorded, she said.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr Mahmuda Mamman, commended all stakeholders involved in conducting the 2021 NMIS and producing the report as well as those that developed the ACSM strategy and implementation guide.
Mamman, who was represented by Dr Morenike Alex-Okoh, Director Public Health, said that the ministry had continued to make efforts to reposition the health sector into one, that was responsive to the needs of citizens.
The funding for the 2021 NMIS was provided by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, and the Global Fund.
ICF provided technical assistance through the DHS Programme, a USAID-funded project that provides support and technical assistance in the implementation of population and health surveys in countries worldwide.