Nigeria faces $2.8bn economic burden on Malaria – FG

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said the economic burden of malaria in Nigeria may increase to about $2.8bn by 2030.

Speaking in Abuja Tuesday during the commemoration of this year’s World Malaria Day, he said the economic burden of malaria in Nigeria for 2022 alone was estimated at $1.6bn.

Represented by Permanent Secretary Mamman Mamuda, he said it was estimated that approximately 55 million cases of malaria and nearly 90,000 malaria-related deaths occurred each year in Nigeria.

He said the out-of-pocket expenditure for malaria was estimated to be over 70 percent and Nigerians paid as much as N2,280.00 on each malaria case.

He said successful control of malaria would increase productivity, improve health, reduce school absenteeism, reduce poverty and facilitate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He said, “Consequently, we must continue to fight to achieve zero malaria by 2030, in line with the World Health organisation’s Global Technical Strategy.”

Ehanire said the theme of this year’s celebration ‘Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement’ was a clarion call to the populace, particularly those living in malaria-endemic regions who accounted for most of the burden and deaths, to avail themselves of the available tools and strategies to enable us to reach those in need.

He said salient achievements to move the nation towards a zero-malaria status included reductions in malaria prevalence from 27% in 2015 to 23% in 2018 and 22% in 2021, distribution of over 130.42 million Long Lasting Insecticidal nets campaigns in 33 states and reaching a total of about 63 million children with Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention.

He said Nigeria had also successfully submitted an application to GAVI for the RTS.S malaria vaccine allocation, adding that this was expected to be in the country by April 2024.

He said more recently, the process of having a second malaria vaccine was commenced by researchers from the Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

He said, “This second vaccine called R21/Matrix M has gone through the first and second stages of clinical trials in some selected African countries, with promising results. Furthermore, there is an ongoing phase III trial which is about to be completed.”

The WHO Health yesterday enjoined Nigeria and other member states to keep malaria high on their agendas in allocating resources to health.

It said to reverse these trends and accelerate progress, “we must rethink and revitalise our strategies by investing, innovating and implementing smartly.”

This is even as the House of Representatives says malaria remains a significant public health challenge in Nigeria with an estimated 97 million cases and 300,000 deaths annually.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, in her statement to mark this year’s World Malaria Day, said malaria had been a stubborn public health enemy, stressing that malaria deaths remained unacceptably high and cases had continued to increase since 2015.

She said in 2021, malaria killed 619,000 people, of whom approximately 96 percent lived in Africa.

“It is 6-20 times more likely to spread in mosquito-prone environments than the Omicron variant of sars-cov-2,” she added.

She said the WHO African Region alone accounted, in 2021, for an estimated 234 million malaria cases and 593,000 deaths, thus bearing the heaviest burden of over 95 percent of cases and 96 percent of deaths globally.

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