Buhari Launches Nigeria End Malaria Council In Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the launch of the Nigeria End Malaria Council (NEMC) at the State House on August 16, 2022. Credit: State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday launched the Nigeria End malaria Council at the State House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The Council is expected to drive the Federal Government’s commitment to end malaria in the country.

In attendance at the launch is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire among other ministers and top government officials.

READ ALSO: Blackout Looms As Electricity Workers Threaten Indefinite Strike

Speaking to a 16-member council headed by the President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote who accepted to be an ambassador for malaria, the President maintained the quest to eliminate mallards remains a priority for his administration.

“Malaria as we all know is an age-long disease and remains a major public health challenge in Nigeria.  The World Health Organisation report of 2021 shows that Nigeria alone accounts for 27% of all cases of malaria and 32% of deaths globally,” Buhari stated.

“Malaria infection can cause severe disease and complication in pregnant women and lead to high rates of miscarriage. It is also responsible for a considerable proportion of deaths in infants and young children, with children under 5 years being the most vulnerable group affected. These are reasons why we must not relent in fighting malaria.”

According to Buhari, beyond improving the quality of life, health and well-being of Nigerians, the strategy adopted had public health and socio-economic benefits for the country.

The President urged the council to deploy best practices in its dealings in order to reduce significantly Nigeria’s malaria burden which according to the WHO now accounts for 27percent of all cases and 32 percent of deaths globally.

He added, “Our inauguration today will therefore ensure that malaria elimination remains a priority on our agenda, with strong political commitment from leaders at all levels. Additionally, the End Malaria Council will provide a platform to advocate for more funding to protect and sustain progress made so far by our country, and put us on a pathway to ending malaria for good.

“The successful implementation of the Council’s agenda will result in improvement in the quality of life, health and well-being of Nigerians, by providing impetus for malaria elimination and by saving about N687 billion nationally which is the estimated economic burden of malaria for 2022. The savings could increase to N2 trillion in 2030. A concerted strategy to tackle malaria, therefore, has both public health as well as socio-economic benefits for Nigeria.”

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Malaria Killed Over 602,000 People In Africa Last Year – WHO

A file photo of a signpost with the WHO emblem.

 

No fewer than 602,000 people died of malaria across Africa last year, an official of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said this on Monday in her message to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day tagged ‘Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives’.

“Malaria remains a significant public health and development challenge,” she declared. “In the last year, about 95 per cent of the estimated 228 million cases occurred in the WHO/AFRO Region, along with 602,020 reported deaths.

“Six of our countries, the worst-impacted by malaria in the region, are reported to have accounted for up to 55 per cent of cases globally, and for 50 per cent of these deaths.”

READ ALSO: Over One Million Children In Africa Have Taken Malaria Vaccine – WHO

The commemoration of World Malaria Day is marked annually on 25 April to focus global attention on the disease and its devastating impact on families, communities, and societal development, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Moeti, in her remarks, believes this year’s theme aligns with her call to urgently scale up innovation and the deployment of new tools in the fight against malaria, while advocating for equitable access to malaria prevention and treatment within the context of building health system resilience.

She said the past year has seen significant breakthroughs in malaria prevention and control, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WHO official stated that landmark recommendations on the use of the first vaccine against malaria – RTS,S – were released by the late last year, adding that the vaccine would be used to prevent the disease among children aged six months to five years, who live in moderate to high transmission settings.

“While this is a ground-breaking advance in the development of new tools to fight this disease, with the potential to save millions of lives, supplies are currently limited,” she lamented. “As such, it is important to ensure that the doses that are available are utilised for maximum impact while ensuring the continued availability of other preventive measures to those most at risk.

“Despite some slowing of progress to reduce malaria cases and deaths, and the disruptions to health services caused by COVID-19, we are still much further ahead than we were in 2000. We need to reignite that momentum and build on the recent advances.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people catching and dying from malaria. This requires a focus on research and on leveraging available evidence to ensure that our targeted interventions are an efficient use of resources, which produce measurable results.”

World’s First Malaria Vaccine Making Inroads In Western Kenya

Laboratory Scientists Commit To Eradication Of Malaria In Nigeria
A file photo used to illustrate the story.

Lucy Akinyi’s three children were infected with malaria so often she would be at their local health clinic in western Kenya every other week getting them treated.

When offered the chance to protect her children with the world’s first vaccine against the deadly parasitic disease, Akinyi jumped at the chance.

More than 100,000 children in malaria-endemic western Kenya have received the new vaccine against the disease, which kills 260,000 children under five every year in sub-Saharan Africa.

A pilot programme has been rolling out the groundbreaking drug — which was 30 years in the making — in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi since 2019.

READ ALSOPfizer To Seek Green Light To Vaccinate Kids Five And Under

It was approved for broad use for children in sub-Saharan Africa and other at-risk regions by the World Health Organization (WHO) in October last year.

For Akinyi and her extended family, the vaccine has worked wonders.

She would always place mosquito nets over her children while they slept, but despite her best efforts, they would still get bitten outside while playing.

“We used to have a lot of malaria in our home. We could be at the hospital three times in a month,” Akinyi said.

But none of her children have tested positive for malaria since being vaccinated, she said, bringing her great comfort living in a region where the disease is a major killer.

“We are very happy because none of our children are sick,” Akinyi said.

Her sister-in-law, Millicent Akoth Oyoya, decided to get her own children jabbed after seeing the benefit it brought her nieces and nephews.

“When she (Akinyi) had her youngest vaccinated, that baby never got malaria,” Oyoya said at a clinic as she waited to get her nine-month-old boy vaccinated in the Lake Victoria region.

“So I decided to bring mine too so that he would be malaria-free.”

Game Changer 

Health clinics in western Kenya — where paediatric wards full of children sickened by malaria are not uncommon — are starting to see results.

Admissions for malaria are falling, as is the severity of symptoms.

“Since we started administering the malaria vaccine in September 2019, we have seen a reduction of the cases of malaria,” said Elsa Swerua, head nurse for malaria at Akala Health Center in Siaya County.

“Even the children who get malaria, it is not severe, and the number of deaths out of malaria has also gone down.”

Less malaria — the same person can suffer many episodes of the disease every year — means fewer trips to the hospital, a boon for families who struggle to pay for treatment again and again.

“Before the vaccine… we would spend a lot of money on treatment and buying and going to the hospital. The cost was high,” Akinyi said.

Now, there is more money to go around for food and other essentials, she said.

Dr Simon Kariuki, chief research officer at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and a leading expert on malaria said the vaccine was a game-changer.

“We showed that this vaccine is safe, and can be given to young African children who bare the higher burden of malaria,” he said.

The pilot trial had shown the vaccine could “reduce malaria incidents in young children in these areas by almost 40 percent”, he said.

The WHO has recommended that the vaccine be administered in a four-dose regimen for children from five months of age in areas with moderate to high transmission of malaria.

AFP

WHO, Global Fund Warn Inequalities Block Progress Towards Ending AIDS, TB And Malaria

In this file photo taken on March 11, 2020 shows World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attending a press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Inequities have been widely acknowledged as barriers to achieving global and national goals and targets in HIV, TB, and malaria programs.

However, the magnitude and extent of underlying health inequalities have remained poorly documented and understood.

Until those inequalities are better identified, and their consequences better understood, it will be hard for programmes to meet people’s real health needs.

READ ALSO: WHO Fears Omicron Could Spur Fresh Vaccine Hoarding

Now, for the first time, a new report from the World Health Organisation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, systematically assesses the global State of inequality: HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The report represents an important step forward in understanding how inequalities are hindering the fight against the three diseases.

The latest available global data for 32 health indicators up to 186 countries shows that while national averages of HIV, TB, and malaria indicators have generally improved in the past decade, the poorest, least educated and rural subgroups tend to remain at a disadvantage across most HIV, TB and malaria indicators.

“Although great strides have been made to expand health services and prevention efforts, we must focus more on reaching the poor, rural, and least educated populations who bear the brunt of these diseases,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

The report shows, for example, that available data on HIV testing among men reveals a gap of at least 20 percentage points between the poorest and richest households in 27 out of 48 countries with the gap having increased over time.

Many families affected by tuberculosis spend a substantial amount of their income on expenses related to the disease – especially if the household is poor. Data from 21 countries show that 20-92% of households spend at least a fifth of their income on TB-related costs. For malaria, the poorest, the least educated, and rural groups reported lower levels of timely care-seeking for children under age five running a fever.

High sex-related inequalities are also quantified in the report. For HIV, in more than half of the countries, males reported higher condom use than females. HIV testing was substantially higher in women than men in a fifth of countries.

“Pandemics thrive on inequalities and exacerbate inequities: we have learned this with HIV, TB, and malaria, and we have seen it again with COVID-19,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

“To tackle the inequities, we must go beyond simple notions of equal access or one-size-fits-all and deliberately create ‘compensating inequalities’ in service provision to focus resources on the most vulnerable. Our new Strategy turbocharges that approach by placing people and communities front and center of the fight against HIV, TB, and malaria and by putting an even greater focus on removing human rights-related barriers to health services.”

Despite the challenges, the report shows cases where inequalities are low, or where the gaps are narrowing through faster improvements in intervention coverage among disadvantaged population subgroups.

Encouragingly, some countries reported higher insecticide-treated bednet ownership among the poorest households, demonstrating that malaria prevention efforts are targeting and benefiting disadvantaged groups.

The report also illustrates the impact of eliminating inequalities in improving national averages across HIV, TB, and malaria. For example, if countries improved the level of HIV testing of all pregnant women to that of the richest subgroup, the overall level of testing would increase from 40% to 64%.

The percentage of families facing catastrophic costs due to TB would decrease by at least 50% in half of the countries (from a current weighted average of 61% to a potential average of 38%). In the case of malaria, families seeking care for children under 5 years with fever, eliminating economic-related inequalities would mean a 26% improvement in the weighted average across 28 countries.

The report calls for the compilation of more and better data on inequalities. The WHO 2020 global assessment of country data and health information systems found that only half of the 133 study countries included data disaggregation in their published national health statistical reports.

It also calls for regular and dedicated monitoring of inequalities in the fight against HIV, TB, and malaria, which should be complemented by other quantitative and qualitative studies. WHO has developed a package of tools and resources on inequality monitoring and continues to support countries to develop their capacities in this area.

Since 2002, the Global Fund has disbursed more than US$50 billion across more than 155 countries to help communities most in need.

Through its Breaking Down Barriers initiative, the Global Fund has over the last years scaled-up programs that remove human-rights-related barriers to services – discrimination, gender inequality and violence, criminalization, and socioeconomic marginalization.

This work, coupled with increased investments in health services for the most under-served, will benefit the national average, bringing countries closer to achieving goals and targets.

Nigeria Accounts For 27% Of Global Malaria Deaths In 2020 – WHO

Malaria

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 29 of the 85 countries that were malaria-endemic accounted for about 96% of malaria cases and deaths globally while Nigeria accounted for 27% of deaths.

The organisation disclosed this in its 2020 World Malaria report released on Monday.

“About 96% of malaria deaths globally were in 29 countries. Six countries – Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), Angola (3%), and Burkina Faso (3%) – accounted for just over half of all malaria deaths globally in 2020.

“Twenty-nine countries accounted for 96% of malaria cases globally, and six countries – Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), Angola (3.4%) and Burkina Faso (3.4%) – accounted for about 55% of all cases globally,” the report read in part.

 

In the data provided, the WHO noted that while Africa had a total of 602,000 deaths out of the estimated 627,000, Nigeria accounted for 31.9 per cent of the malaria deaths on the planet, which was followed closely by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 13.2 percent.

It also added that Sub-Saharan Africa had the heaviest malaria burden, accounting for about 95% of all malaria cases and 96% of all deaths in 2020. About 80% of deaths in the region are among children under 5 years of age.

Commenting on the report, the Head, Global Malaria Programme, WHO, Dr Pedro Alonso, said there was a potential malaria crisis.

Malaria Trial Shows 70% Reduction In Severe Cases

 In this file photo taken on August 19, 2019 a person holds a seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) tablet received in Koubri's health center, south east of Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou. Olympia DE MAISMONT / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 19, 2019 a person holds a seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) tablet received in Koubri’s health center, south east of Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. Olympia DE MAISMONT / AFP

 

A new approach using existing medicines to prevent malaria has been shown to reduce severe cases of the parasitic disease among infants by more than 70 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a study.

The “dramatic” results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, came from combining booster shots of an antimalarial vaccine ahead of the rainy season together with preventative drugs.

Malaria kills more than 400,000 people a year, the vast majority under the age of five.

READ ALSO: After COVID-19 Jab, BioNTech Sets Sights On Malaria Vaccine

The paper’s senior author Brian Greenwood of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told AFP that members of the team were in touch with the World Health Organization about updating its recommendations.

The RTS,S vaccine, made by British pharmaceutical company GSK, was developed more than 20 years ago but by itself is not highly effective, said Greenwood.

Prior research has shown the vaccine’s protection wanes over time and it offers around 30 percent efficacy over a period of three to four years.

Since malaria is highly seasonal in the Sahel and sub-Sahel region, the team wanted to test whether giving boosters before each year’s rainy season, when mosquito populations peak, would improve outcomes.

The trial followed around 6,000 children aged five to 17 months from Burkina Faso and Mali over the course of three years.

The children were split into three groups: those who received only the anti-malarial drugs sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine and amodiaquine; those who received only the RTS,S vaccine; and those who received a combination.

The combination was the most effective intervention, reducing malaria cases by 63 percent, hospitalizations by 71 percent, and deaths by 73 percent compared to the drugs alone.

“That was pretty dramatic,” said Greenwood — stressing that these numbers are on top of the impact of the already effective drugs, not compared to no medicine, which would have been unethical to test.

He estimated that the combination of the booster vaccine doses and antimalarial drugs reduced hospitalizations and deaths by 90 percent compared to no intervention.

Children initially receive three doses of the vaccine to prime their systems, then a booster every year. It is based on a particle that trains the immune system against the Plasmodium falciparum parasite.

The anti-malarial drugs are given for three days a month every four months.

Greenwood said the study showed the value of developing plans in accordance with local epidemiological conditions — in this case administering vaccines ahead of peak season, instead of during times when there was no transmission and their impact would fade.

“Like a lot of these things it’s sort of common sense but nobody has actually put this into practice, to see whether it actually would work,” he said.

“Hopefully this may get implemented in several countries and save lots of people’s lives.”

 

AFP

After COVID-19 Jab, BioNTech Sets Sights On Malaria Vaccine

A health worker shows a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at the Pascual Guerrero Olympic stadium, in Cali, Colombia, on April 26, 2021. Luis ROBAYO / AFP

 

Germany’s BioNTech, which developed a coronavirus vaccine with US giant Pfizer in record time, said Monday it aimed to start trialling a malaria vaccine next year using the same breakthrough mRNA technology.

If successful, the vaccine could be a crucial step in the fight against the mosquito-borne disease, which kills more than 400,000 people a year — mainly young children in Africa.

“We will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement.

The company said it will assess several vaccine candidates and begin clinical trials by the end of 2022.

The project is backed by the World Health Organization, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Union.

READ ALSO: World Bank To Finance Extra COVID-19 Jabs For Poorer Nations

BioNTech said it was also looking at setting up an mRNA hub in Africa so that future vaccines can be manufactured and distributed on the continent.

The planned malaria vaccine would use the same messenger RNA method that made its debut with the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which was the first jab against Covid to be approved in the West in late 2020.

The coronavirus jab developed by US rival Moderna also uses mRNA technology.

Scientists believe mRNA vaccines, which provoke an immune response by delivering genetic molecules containing the code for key parts of a pathogen into human cells, could be a game-changer against many diseases.

They also take less time to develop than traditional vaccines.

BioNTech’s Covid-19 shot was developed and approved by regulators in less than a year.

– ‘Realistic goal’ –

“We are witnessing the start of a revolution in medical science, the revolution of messenger RNA,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at Monday’s online launch event.

“Eradicating malaria is now a realistic goal and now we know that it can be achieved already in this generation.”

In a conference call with reporters, Sahin said he believed BioNTech’s malaria efforts have “a high likelihood for success”.

The fight against malaria received a boost in April when researchers from Britain’s Oxford University announced that their Matrix-M vaccine candidate had become the first to surpass the WHO’s threshold of 75-percent efficacy, in a study on infants in Burkina Faso.

A large-scale, final stage trial is ongoing.

AFP

Nigeria Needs N1.89trn To Tackle Malaria – Health Minister

Zika, w.h.o
A file photo of a mosquito.

 

Nigeria needs over a trillion naira to effectively combat malaria in the country, Dr Osagie Ehanire has said.

He explained that of the total sum, the country required more than N350 billion naira to fight the disease in 2021 alone.

Ehanire, the Minister of Health, disclosed this on Friday a news conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“The implementation of the new strategic plan will cost N1.89 trillion; about N352 billion is required for the year 2021 programme implementation,” he told reporters ahead of the World Malaria Day scheduled to hold on Sunday.

The minister added, “The theme of this year’s commemoration is Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria, and the slogan ‘Stand Up, Take Action’ which is to empower communities in various countries to take ownership of preventing malaria and providing proper care and treatment to those in need, are germane.”

He acknowledged that the Federal Government does not have the adequate amount required to fight the disease this year.

Ehanire attributed this to the prevailing economic circumstances occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, just as in other countries.

He, therefore, called on the private sector, various corporate organisations, and patriotic individuals to support the government to tackle malaria.

 

Hope For Vaccine

The minister disclosed that the government was working to establish a Malaria Council that would help to drive domestic funding for the elimination of the disease.

According to him, the commemoration of World Malaria Day provides the government with the opportunity to share the progress made, best practices, and create awareness on the scourge of malaria.

Malaria, a disease caused by a parasite spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, kills more than 400,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.

As experts across the world step up efforts to combat the disease, a recent study shows that a malaria vaccine from the Oxford Institute is 77 per cent effective for the treatment of COVID-19.

The study conducted by Oxford University and released on Friday indicated that clinical trials had been carried out on 450 children between the ages of five to 17 months.

If safety is assured, health authorities say that it will become the key weapon in eliminating the disease, which is responsible for half a million deaths a year, mostly in children.

Oxford Institute Develops Malaria Vaccine With 77 Percent Effectiveness

Laboratory Scientists Commit To Eradication Of Malaria In Nigeria

 

A recent study shows that a malaria vaccine from the Oxford Institute is 77 percent effective for the treatment of COVID-19.

Malaria kills more than 400,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.

But the study conducted by Oxford University and released on Friday indicated that clinical trials had been carried out on 450 children between the ages of five to 17 months.

This is coming at a time that the vaccine is entering larger-scale human trials to test for rarer side effects.

Authorities believe that if the safety of the vaccine is guaranteed, it will be a game-changer in tackling the disease which has continued to kill many across the globe.

“These are very exciting results showing unprecedented efficacy levels from a vaccine that has been well-tolerated in our trial programme,” Halidou Tinto, the trial’s principal investigator, said in a statement.

“We look forward to the upcoming Phase III trial to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy data for a vaccine that is greatly needed in this region.”

Although Malaria is preventable and curable, data from the World Health Organisation estimates there were 229 million cases worldwide in 2019 and 409,000 deaths.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through a mosquito bite and it begins with symptoms such as fever, headaches and chills and, without treatment, can progress quickly to severe illness and often death.

According to the study author and Director of the Jenner Institute in Oxford, Adrian Hill, the results were thrilling.

Despite decades of research, there is only one other vaccine against malaria and it is about 36 percent effective.

Hill said it was imperative that regulators treated the vaccine with the same urgency as those against Covid-19. “Malaria is a public health emergency. More people died from malaria last year in Africa than COVID-19 by a factor of at least four,” he said.

“That’s a real technical challenge,” Prof Hill said, adding that “The vast majority of vaccines haven’t worked because it’s very difficult.”

Malaria Cases Rise In Jigawa After Flood Hits 17 LGAs

Zika, w.h.o
A file photo of a mosquito.

 

Malaria cases in Jigawa State have risen as a result of the flood that killed dozens of people and left thousands homeless.

The chairman of the Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN) in Jigawa, Baba Ali, confirmed this to Channels Television on Saturday.

Ali, who is from one of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) worst affected by the flood, decried that hospitals have become congested and people were unaware of measures to prevent themselves from becoming victims of the disease.

“From August this year, Jigawa State began experiencing flood and this displaced so many people, especially around the Hadejia axis; this exposed them to mosquito bites and this is why we are having so many congestions in the hospital,“ Ali said.

He added, “It is in line with this that our organisation is working with the community members to enlighten the general public on how to prevent themselves from mosquito bites and also to access the free malaria control facility provided in the state.”

On his part, the programme manager of (ACOMIN), Auwal Ibrahim, believes residents must own the activities of malaria control in the environment.

He said, “In one community in Auyo LGA, the people contributed money and built a temporary toilet for their health facility.

“In another community at Jahun LGA, the people came together, working as a group to clear grasses and level the ground in front of their facility.”

The Director of Public Health in Jigawa, Dr Umar Balangu, who also confirmed the situation, said the state government was doing everything in its power to contain the situation.

He noted that mosquito nets were distributed in some communities, as well as fumigation exercise.

According to Balangu, the government is also providing free medical treatment for women and under-five children in the state.

He stated that this has gone a long way in controlling the recent increase in the cases of malaria in Jigawa.

The Nigerian Metrological Agency had predicted the possibility of flood in 12 LGAs in Jigawa, but at least 17 LGAs were affected.

A total of 41 lives were lost to floods and over 10,000 people were displaced.

WHO Warns Malaria Deaths Could Double Amid COVID Pandemic

 

The new coronavirus pandemic could severely disrupt access to anti-malaria nets and drugs in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization said Thursday, warning that malaria deaths risked doubling if efforts are not urgently scaled up.

The UN health agency called on countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 95 percent of all the world’s malaria cases and deaths occur, to rapidly distribute malaria prevention and treatment tools now, before they become too overwhelmed with novel coronavirus cases.

“Severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018,” the WHO warned, citing new modelling analysis.

The analysis, it said, considers nine scenarios for potential disruptions in access to core malaria control tools during the pandemic across 41 countries, and the resulting possible increases in cases and deaths.

Under the worst-case scenario, in which all campaigns to distribute insecticide-treated nets are suspended and there is a 75-percent reduction in access to effective antimalarial medicines, “the estimated tally of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 would reach 769,000,” WHO said.

READ ALSO: Twitter To Block COVID-19 5G Conspiracy Theory Tweets

That is twice the number of deaths reported in the region in 2018, it stressed, adding that such an increase would mean returning to malaria mortality levels not seen in two decades.

The hike would have particularly dire consequences for young children, with those under five making up more than two-thirds of all malaria deaths in 2018.

– ‘Critical window’ –

WHO stressed that so far, sub-Saharan African countries had reported relatively few cases in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 180,000 people globally and infected more than 2.6 million.

But the agency, which has long warned that weak health systems in the region risked becoming seriously overwhelmed as cases increase, said the disease was picking up pace there.

“This means that countries across the region have a critical window of opportunity to minimise disruptions in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak,” it said.

“Mass vector control campaigns should be accelerated, ensuring protection for both health workers and communities against COVID-19 transmission,” it said.

In a separate statement Thursday, the WHO also reiterated its call to maintain immunisation services worldwide to ensure the measures taken to halt the pandemic do not end up sparking a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and polio.

“While the world strives to develop a new vaccine for COVID-19 at record speed, we must not risk losing the fight to protect everyone, everywhere against vaccine-preventable diseases,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the statement.

“These diseases will come roaring back if we do not vaccinate.”

AFP

Nigeria Recorded Highest Rate Of Malaria Cases Globally In 2018 – WHO

Zika, w.h.o

 

A new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says Nigeria accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide with 25 percent, topping the list of 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India which carried almost 85 percent.

According to the WHO report, six African countries; Nigeria (25 percent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12 percent), Uganda (5 percent), and Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, and Niger (4 percent each) accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide.

The World malaria report 2019 released on Wednesday by the WHO, said in 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide, compared with 251 million cases in 2010 and 231 million cases in 2017.

According to the report, the incidence rate of malaria declined globally between 2010 and 2018, from 71 to 57 cases per 1000 population at risk.

The prevalence of malaria was attributed to Plasmodium falciparum parasite in the WHO African Region, accounting for 99.7 per cent of estimated malaria cases in 2018, as well as in the WHO South-East Asia Region (50 percent), the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (71 percent) and the WHO Western Pacific Region (65 percent).

READ ALSO: I’ll Do Everything Possible To Ensure A Stable Liberia, Buhari Vows

The reports revealed that in 2018, an estimated 405,000 deaths were recorded from malaria globally, while children aged less than 5 years accounted for 67 percent (272,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

“Nearly 85 percent of global malaria deaths in 2018 were concentrated in 20 countries in the WHO African Region and India; Nigeria accounted for almost 24 percent of all global malaria deaths, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11 percent), the United Republic of Tanzania (5 percent), and Angola, Mozambique and Niger (4 percent each).

“In 2018, about 11 million pregnancies in moderate and high transmission sub-Saharan African countries would have been exposed to malaria infection. In 2018, the prevalence of exposure to malaria infection in pregnancy was highest in the West African subregion and Central Africa (each with 35 percent), followed by East and Southern Africa (20 percent). About 39 percent of these were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.”

The report also revealed that 11 countries with a high burden to high impact rate recorded about 155 million malaria cases in 2018.

“Of the 10 highest-burden countries in Africa, Ghana and Nigeria reported the highest absolute increases in cases of malaria in 2018 compared with 2017. The burden in 2018 was similar to that of 2017 in all other countries, apart from in Uganda and India, where there were reported reductions of 1.5 and 2.6 million malaria cases, respectively, in 2018 compared with 2017.”

However, the report reflected some gains, stating that malaria deaths reduced from about 400,000 in 2010 to about 260,000 in 2018, the largest reduction being in Nigeria, from almost 153,000 deaths in 2010 to about 95,000 deaths in 2018.