Malaria Eradication: FG Paying Lip Service to Ending Disease

Kenny Folarin, Abuja

Malaria, a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans.

People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness.

Arguably, an average Nigerian is believed to have malaria irrespective of class or status, though mostly found among the poor due to the dirty mosquito infested environment that they live.

Over the years, herbs have proven to be effective cure for malaria, but the use of herbs is gradually going into extinction due to civilization and technological advancement in health.

According to report, Nigeria suffers the world’s greatest malaria burden, with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths reported annually (approximately 30 % of the total malaria burden in Africa), while 97 % of the total population (approximately 173 million) is at risk of infection.

In 2018, Nigeria renewed its efforts by committing to raise malaria up the national priority list, including securing $300 million in new financing from the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and African Development Bank to help finance its national malaria strategy.

Nigeria also pledged an additional $18.7million to leverage $37million from the Global Fund to distribute of 15 million mosquito nets.

The UK government also pledged
£50 million (N25,757,154,000.00) to malaria programme in Nigeria even as it pledged £9.2 million to fund new research on development of new triple Artemisinin Combination Treatments.

Despite funds plunged to eradicate malaria, findings show that Nigeria has the largest funding gap in malaria elimination in Africa.

Nigeria faces a financial gap of N504 billion ($1.4 billion) to implement its national malaria strategy by 2020, according to the 2017 World Malaria Report, a publication by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated Nigeria End Malaria Council (NEMC), projecting that the successful implementation of the Council’s agenda and savings from the estimated economic burden of the disease would save Nigeria about N687 billion in 2022 and N2 trillion by 2030.

The President being optimistic noted that “Our inauguration today will therefore ensure that malaria elimination remains a priority on our agenda, with strong political commitment from leaders at all levels.

‘‘Additionally, the End Malaria Council will provide a platform to advocate for more funding to protect and sustain progress made so far by our country, and put us on a pathway to ending malaria for good,’’ the President said.

In August 2021, Nigerian government distributed 193.5 million insecticide-treated nets since the commencement of free distribution of mosquito nets in 2009 to check malaria parasites and ensure that people live healthy lives in the country.

Similarly, NGOs, and other key stakeholders in the health sectors distributed free mosquito net to Nigerians, though perceived to be free, it is still being sold in the market.

In April 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the RTS,S or mosquirix vaccine could save the lives of an additional 40,000 to 80,000 African children each year.

Read Also: FG to borrow N82 billion to buy Mosquito Nets

The vaccine, RTS,S is not just the first for malaria, but also the first developed for any parasitic disease. Parasites are much more complex than viruses or bacteria, but unfortunately the burden of malaria cases is still on the increase.

Experts are, however, worried that despite efforts to contain malaria, Nigeria loses over $1.1 billion (N645.7 billion) yearly to prevention and treatment of the disease as well as other costs.

The experts, said malaria killed no fewer than 200,000 Nigerians and afflicted 61 million others in 2021. They also said Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Tanzania and Mozambique accounted for over half of all malaria deaths.

With the indices highlighted, rhetorical questions such as how will the inauguration of the Nigeria End Malaria Council really end malaria bearing in mind the few months remaining for the President to leave office?

Or better still, do we still need more of international donors intervention or just like COVID-19, has malaria really come to stay?

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