AS the world marks another World Malaria Day today, April 25 ,
malaria remains one of the most deadly infectious diseases.
Malaria is still an acute public health problem, particularly in
sub-Saharan Africa and especially in Nigeria, no thanks to
substantial gaps in the coverage of core malaria control tools.
This year’s theme – “Ending Malaria For Good” – spotlights
prevention, the cornerstone of malaria control efforts.
According to The World Malaria Report 2016, a publication of the
World Health Organisation (WHO), there were 212 million
malaria cases worldwide in 2015, with 21 per cent incidence
reduction between 2010 and 2015, while global decrease in
mortality rates was 29 per cent.
The Report notes that in 2015, an estimated 43 per cent of the
population in sub-Saharan Africa was not protected by treated
nets or indoor spraying with insecticides, the primary methods
of malaria vector control, while 36 per cent of children with fever
were not taken to health facilities for care in these African countries.
While there has been progress and appreciable gains in malaria
control and prevention, the work is incomplete.
Millions still lack access to the essential tools they need to
prevent and treat the disease. In many instances, progress is
threatened by the rapid development and spread of mosquito
resistance to insecticides and anti-malarial drug resistance is
another major hindrance in the efforts to eliminate the disease.
Funding shortfalls and fragile health systems still undermine
overall progress, thereby jeopardising the attainment of global
targets. In many countries like Nigeria, health systems are
under-funded and mainly inaccessible to most of those at risk
of malaria attack.
Nigeria does not appear to be on the track of being among
countries working to control and eliminate malaria by year 2030,
as required under the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global
Technical Strategy for Malaria.
For Nigeria to be listed, there must be a commitment to report
fewer locally-acquired cases of malaria and progress towards
other global targets must be accelerated.
The nation must be seen to be on track to achieve the 2020
milestones of 40 per cent reduction in case incidence and
mortality. There must be greater investments in the
development of new vector control interventions, improved
diagnostics and more effective medicines.
At the general level, there must be better and more effective
malaria preventive, diagnostic and treatment measures in place
at the various layers of our health delivery system.
More funding is an urgent priority that must be increased
substantially. The fight against malaria can be more effective
with robust funding, effective programming and the country’s
leadership political will.
We call on the Federal Government to drive the initiative towards
ensuring that progress in combating malaria is sustained and