Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Nigeria Records Decline In Malaria Prevalence 

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has said the results of the 2021 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS) have shown further decline in the national prevalence of malaria to 22 per cent from 23 per cent in 2018 and 42 per cent in 2010. 

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said this today (November 30, 2022) in Abuja, at the dissemination of the advocacy, communication and social mobilisation (ACSM) strategy and implementation guide (2021-2025), as well as the dissemination of the 2022 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS) report. 

Science Nigeria reports that the ACSM strategy and implementation guide (2021-2025), disseminated by the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), was implemented by the NMEP of the FMOH, in collaboration with the National Population Commission (NPC). 

Ehanire said while this may not appear significant at the national level, substantial gains have been observed in several states. 

“We are seeing gains being sustained in getting the general population to adopt key preventive measures. 

“So far, 56 per cent of households own at least one insecticide-treated net (ITNs) while 36 per cent of household members, 41 per cent of children under five and 50 per cent of pregnant women slept under an ITN the night before the survey. 

“Also, 31 per cent of women took at least three doses of SP/Fansidar for the prevention of malaria in pregnancy while 45 per cent took at least two doses up from 17 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, in 2018. 

“When we look at the percentage who slept under an ITN the night before the survey among households with at least one ITN, we see the percentages rise 59 per cent of household members, 64 per cent of children under five and 73 per cent of pregnant women,” the minister explained. 

He said the figures underscore the importance of access and, therefore, the drive to use all means, including rolling mass campaigns to reach the teaming populations. 

“But we have noted that we are still not seeing the substantial gains we wish to see. Malaria prevalence is still higher in rural areas, compared to urban areas. 

“We are observing a shift in the disease patterns among the various age groups, with prevalence increasing with age and those more than five years having more episodes of malaria not tracked in the current NMIS,” he explained. 

Ehanire said these called for shifts in the way some things were done, “especially in promoting health-seeking behaviours” among the general populace, due to the evidence-informed ACSM guide launched today. 

“The Nigeria Malaria ACSM Strategy and Implementation Guide document the targeting of ACSM interventions at various subnational populations, based on their respective epidemiological, ecological, social and health system contexts. 

“The implementation of the Malaria ACSM Strategy, it must be emphasised, is guided by underlying principles like the multi-stakeholder and multisectoral approach; human rights, gender and equity; appropriate intervention mixes, mechanisms for performance tracking and leveraging the community health services,” he explained. 

The minister said the ministry intends to see significant improvements in the utilisation and uptake of malaria services by the general populace if appropriately implemented and, consequently, significant improvements in malaria indicators being tracked in future surveys.

The national coordinator, National Malarial Elimination Programme, FMOH,Dr. Perpetua Umomoibhi said that the country has implemented four national malaria strategic plans (NMSPs) and is presently implementing the fifth NMSP which covers the period 2021 to 2025. 

“The 2021-2025 NMSP aims to achieve a parasite prevalence of less than 10 per cent and reduce mortality attributable to malaria to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2025.

“The need to measure the impact of these strategic plans requires the availability of data from routine sources, principally the District Health Information System (DHIS), operations research and surveys, particularly the Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS),” she explained. 

Umomoibhi said that the 2021 NMIS was the third malaria indicator survey conducted in the country, with the first in 2010 and the second in 2015. 

“The sample size for the 2021 NMIS was much larger than in previous surveys, with a total of 568 clusters covered across the country (195 in urban areas and 373 in rural areas). The 2010 and 2015 surveys covered 240 and 333 clusters, respectively,” she explained. 

The director of programmes, West and Central Africa, Malaria Consortium, Dr. Kolawole Maxwell said malaria remains a public health issue.

He called for the adoption of malaria interventions by Nigerians as recommended, to ensure a greater impact as evidenced by a reduction in malaria prevalence and deaths and attain maximum public health benefits. 

Meanwhile, the permanent secretary, FMOH, Mr. Mahmuda Mamman commended all stakeholders involved in conducting the 2021 NMIS and producing the report as well as those that developed the ACSM strategy and implementation guide.

Mamman, who was represented by the director, public health, FMOH, Dr. Morenike Alex-Okoh said that the FMOH has continued to make efforts to reposition the health sector to be responsive to the needs of citizens.

Racheal Abujah
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