150 million Nigerians at risk of malaria attack – Minister of Health
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Tuesday said over 150 million Nigerians were at risk of malaria fever.
The Minister disclosed this at a press conference marking the 2012 World Malaria Day celebration in Abuja.
According to him, the figure translated into 90% of Nigeria’s population of 167million.
He said the 2010 Malaria Indicator Survey conducted in Nigeria, revealed that about 52 per cent of children aged between 6 months and 5 years tested positive to malaria through Rapid Diagnostic Test, stressing that prevalence was higher in rural areas, estimated at about 55.9 per cent.
“Malaria is a major public problem in Nigeria, contributing a quarter of malaria burden in Africa. Over 90 per cent of the population in Nigeria, put at 167 million, is at risk.
Malaria contributes 30 per cent to childhood mortality in Nigeria and contributes 11 percent of maternal mortality. I must add that it reduces Nigeria’s GDP by 1 per cent annually. It is estimated that malaria-related illnesses and mortality cost Africa’s economy about $12 billion annually.
Mr Chukwu said that the government have distributed 47 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) so far in 30 states of the federation to help reduce the prevalence of malaria.
“The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria’, while the slogan is ‘Let’s work together’. It actually marks a decisive juncture in the history of malaria control,” the Minister disclosed.
Despite the challenges in fighting the spread of the disease in Nigeria, Mr Chukwu said that investments in malaria control have resulted in great achievements in the fight against malaria, with malaria deaths reduced by one- third in Africa in the last ten years, while outside Africa, 35 out of 53 countries, were able to reduce the malaria deaths by 50 percent in the same period.
Speaking at the occasion, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Nigeria, David Okello, noted that progress has been noticed in the fight against malaria but that it is still fragile.