The Federal Government on Tuesday warned that deaths from malaria are likely to double by the end of the year following interruptions in malaria prevention activities like insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to anti-malarial medicines.
This was the position of National Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Audu Mohammed, during a media chat in Abuja supported by the Global Fund.
Dr Mohammed noted that studies from the Global Fund during the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that malaria services were seriously disrupted on account of countries and their health systems response to the pandemic, lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings of people, transport stoppages and COVID-related stigma.
Other factors, according to him are the reluctance of health workers to attend to people suspected of having TB or malaria, which have many of the same initial symptoms as COVID-19, and clients not seeking health services as usual.
He however revealed that malaria prevalence in the country has dropped from 42 per cent to 23 per cent, according to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) report.
“There is a reduction in the malaria prevalence from 42 per cent to 23 per cent, along with a 38 per cent reduction in mortality, according to the 2018 NDHS results. Key progress indicators such as net use, uptake of IPTp by pregnant women, seeking of care during fever, and use of the appropriate anti-malarial are improving.
“However, a lot still needs to improve, as we are not close to most of the targets we had set out to achieve in our current malaria strategic plan. With the onset of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the malaria challenge seems to be compounded.”