Today is World Malaria Day, and the theme for the 2023 celebration is Time to deliver zero malaria
In marking the day, the World Health Organisation rolls out statistics on malaria infection, showing that despite global efforts to end malaria, it has continued to kill, while the largest casualties are in Africa.
Acvording to WHO, 619,000 malaria deaths were recorded in 2021 out of the 247 million new cases recorded for that year.
The WHO states that 95% of all malaria cases are in WHO African Region
The global health body World states that Malaria Day 2023 will be marked under the theme “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement”.
Within this theme, WHO will focus on the third “i” – implement – and notably the critical importance of reaching marginalized populations with the tools and strategies that are available today.
The latest World Malaria Report shows that the WHO African Region bears a high percentage of the global malaria burden, with Nigeria having the highest burden in the world.
In 2022, the African region was home to approximately 95% of all malaria cases and 96% of deaths, with children under the age of five accounting for 80% of all malaria deaths.
Four African countries, including Nigeria, accounted for over half of all malaria deaths worldwide. Nigeria alone accounted for (31.3%) of global malaria deaths, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12.6%), the United Republic of Tanzania (4.1%), and Niger (3.9%).
In Nigeria, malaria remains a significant public health challenge with an estimated 97 million cases and 300,000 deaths annually.
Although progress has been made in reducing the burden of this disease, much work still needs to be done to eliminate it.
In line with World Malaria Day in 2023, it is crucial to assess where we are and what we can do to accelerate progress towards a malaria-free Nigeria.
Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
The disease largely affects children under the age of five and pregnant women, with severe cases leading to death.
The Nigerian government and various non-governmental organisations have made significant efforts to tackle malaria, including the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and improved access to effective antimalarial drugs.
However, these interventions face significant challenges, including inadequate funding, weak health systems, and resistance to antimalarial drugs and insecticides.
In recent years, international donors have increased their support for malaria control programmes in many countries, including Nigeria. However, funding for malaria control is still insufficient to meet global targets for its elimination.
Thus, there is a need for sustained investment in malaria control and research, with a focus on increasing domestic financing for malaria programmes and reducing dependence on international donors.
With Nigeria having the highest cases of malaria in the world the government must prioritise funding for malaria programmes and work towards sustainable financing mechanisms.
This will ensure that malaria interventions are adequately funded and implemented, reducing the burden of the disease on the most vulnerable communities