From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, made a shocking revelation that indicated, at least, 30 children are lost to malaria daily in Nigeria, even though data points to the fact that malaria prevalence is on the decline.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed the information at a press conference in Abuja, said the situation calls for urgent action from local and international stakeholders to salvage the future of Nigeria whose children are lost to malaria and other endemic diseases at early age in life.
The minister made reference to the success recorded in the fight against malaria through the platform of the Roll Back Malaria that was set up in 1998 by the World Health Organisation with support from relevant local, regional and continental bodies, suggesting that the platform be strengthened to respond to the cases of malaria in Nigeria.
He, however, debunked some reports in the media that indicated that Federal Ministry of Health in 2022 budget proposal requested N82 billion be approved for it to purchase malaria net.
The minister said: “There has been several initiatives in the fight against malaria in Nigeria that are beyond the purchase of mosquito nets alone. However, these initiatives have collectively contributed to the significant drop in malaria prevalence in Nigeria.
“For instance, I was recently told that malaria prevalence in Nigeria is now 23 percent, and it’s expected to drop as the interventions begin to yield result. Evidently, Lagos S+tate is doing marvellously well in the fight against malaria, hence Malaria prevalence in the state is far less.”
The minister explained that malaria is endemic to Nigeria and because of that, people are used to it and frequently trivialise the disease in Africa. “But it’s a major public health concern in Nigeria. This was because we are burdened with the world’s highest disease and death rate in Nigeria.
“Malaria is the highest killer disease for children under the age of five in Nigeria. I just heard that pneumonia takes 19 percent and malaria 23 percent of children under the age of five.
“To put it in proper context, malaria accounts for 60 percent of outpatient hospital visits, 30 percent of hospital admissions, and it mostly affect the poor, the young, vulnerable and pregnant women. About 30 children estimated to be lost to malaria every day. That’s a lot.
“That was the major reason for the set up of Roll Back Malaria programme with heavy support from The Global Fund and US government, and Nigeria has partner with them.”
Meanwhile, experts in the health care sector have suggested government should channel same energy and resources used to fight COVID-19 pandemic against malaria, lassa fever and several other endemic diseases.