NIGERIA — In the ongoing global crusade against malaria, Nigeria, although shouldering a substantial 27% of the world’s malaria cases, is celebrating significant progress.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently disclosed a remarkable 55% decline in malaria-related death rates within Nigeria between 2000 and 2021. Additionally, malaria incidence dropped by 26% during the same period.

Ms. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, delivered this encouraging news during the unveiling of the 2022 Nigeria Malaria Report in Abuja.

While acknowledging Nigeria’s substantial contribution to the global malaria burden, she emphasized the nation’s substantial advancements.

Africa, overall, carries the weight of 95% of global malaria cases and a staggering 96% of malaria-related fatalities in 2021.

Moeti shared, “While Nigeria accounts for around 27% of the global burden of malaria cases, the country has seen major progress.

Malaria incidence has fallen by 26% since 2000, from 413 per 1000 to 302 per 1000 in 2021. Malaria deaths also fell by 55%, from 2.1 per 1,000 population to 0.9 per 1,000 population.”

Malaria, a deadly disease caused by a parasite transmitted through mosquito bites, continues to claim the lives of over 400,000 individuals annually, with the majority of victims being children residing in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigeria, as Africa’s most populous nation, bears a substantial portion of this global malaria burden. Ms. Moeti identified several key drivers of this enduring crisis, including Nigeria’s vast population, inadequate funding, and suboptimal surveillance systems that capture less than 40 percent of the country’s malaria data.

Additionally, health-seeking behavior often leads people to opt for the unregulated private sector, exacerbating the malaria challenge.

Addressing the prevention, control, and eventual elimination of malaria necessitates data-driven investment and decision-making.

Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, emphasized that governance, rather than finances, poses a significant challenge to malaria combat in Nigeria.

Collaborative efforts with development partners and the private sector are envisioned to marshal the required resources.

Pate also acknowledged the invaluable contributions of countries like the United States, which have invested approximately US$900 million in Nigeria’s malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis programs.

He pledged continued support for President Bola Tinubu’s vision to enhance the health sector and underscored the importance of data in charting the nation’s health progress.

Enhancing healthcare delivery in Nigeria necessitates retraining and updating the standards of practice for frontline healthcare workers.

Speaking at the event, David Walton, the Global Malaria Coordinator for the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, commended Nigeria for its progress in the healthcare sector, especially during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walton highlighted Nigeria’s status as the recipient of more global fund investments than any other nation, emphasizing unity in the objective of saving lives and enhancing the nation’s health systems.

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