In Nigeria, Malaria is still a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Along with two other countries, India and Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria accounted for over 40% of the estimated total of malaria cases and deaths globally (WHO).
With an estimated population of 180 million, Nigeria has a large population at risk of malaria. However, children under the age of five (5) and pregnant women are the most vulnerable to illness and death from malaria infection in Nigeria.
Malaria has been reported to account for 60% of outpatient visits and 30% of hospitalizations among children under five years of age in Nigeria (NMEP).
The National Malaria Indicator Survey showed that Slide Positivity Rate was 42% in children under-five.
it was reported that the percentage of children under age five with fever and/or convulsions according to the National Demographic and Health Survey done NMEP was 32.6%.
According to the Nigeria Federal Ministry Of Health, deaths resulting from malaria have been estimated at over 300,000 deaths per year. At this rate, malaria is seen to accounts for more deaths per year than HIV/AIDS, and is the major contributor to deaths in children bellow five (5) years and in pregnant women.
The Way Forwad
However, if we must chart the way forward there’s need to improve our method of diagnosis to the use of PCR which is the most specific and sensitive method of detecting malaria parasite.
We must also imbibe the concept of constant training and retraining of our malaria microscopist and medical laboratory scientists especially those working in the field of malaria in general so as to stay up-to-date with current trends in malaria diagnosis.
But with all these thoughts, the question of whether the government is willing to deploy the resources required to achieve this is till a big question!
Challenges facing the coalition of actors who are trying to eradicate malaria?
There are lots of issues surrounding the coalition of actors; In the case of Nigeria, the motivation for a coalition is very low and that’s because of the poor political commitments which is even very unstable!
Secondly, challenges deceased funding for malaria control and elimination programs have also become a demotivating factor for a coalition!
Finally, issues around favourable policies that would permit for the full commitment of the private sector in this fight is also a challenge affecting coalition of actors.
There are more of challenges but for now these three have been very pressing!
In a very recent interview granted by the Honourable Minister of Health, he mentioned that about N1.89 trillion will be needed if Nigeria is to achieve malaria prevalence rate of less than 10 per cent and reduce mortality rate to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2025. However, he also mentioned that the government does not have this money, meaning?
Meaning that we are still going to fall back to our usual act of depending almost completely on donor funds for our malaria eradication and control programs!
Countries like Algeria which got certified in 2019 as a malaria free country made such milestone through intentional commitment from the side of the government!
They had consistent and complete funding for the country’s malaria program for a straight period of 20 years!
Until we see some level of improved commitment from the side of the government in terms of funding, we just may record the failure of another National Strategic Plan!
And trust me, this is a major issue behind the coalition we’re talking about!