Africa: Malaria Contributes to Reduced Economic Growth in Nigeria, Other African Countries – WHO

“Malaria-related absenteeism and productivity losses cost Nigeria, for example, an estimated US$ 1.1 billion every year. “

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said malaria is responsible for an annual reduction of 1.3 per cent in Africa’s economic growth.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti disclosed this in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES to commemorate the 2021 World Malaria Day (WMD).

According to Ms Moeti, for every year that malaria spread, health and development suffer the most.

She noted that malaria-related absenteeism and productivity losses cost Nigeria an estimated US$ 1.1 billion every year.

“Malaria is responsible for an average annual reduction of 1.3 per cent in Africa’s economic growth,” Ms Moeti said.

“Malaria-related absenteeism and productivity losses cost Nigeria, for example, an estimated US$ 1.1 billion every year.

“In 2003, malaria cost Uganda an estimated gross domestic product equivalent to US$ 11 million and in Kenya, approximately 170 million working days and 11 per cent of primary school days are lost to malaria each year.”

The regional director said more efforts are needed to change the situation and to help at-risk populations.

World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day is marked on April 25 every year to highlight global efforts to control malaria and celebrate the gains that have been made.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria” because every malaria case is preventable, and every malaria death is unacceptable, WHO said.

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

Malaria is endemic in Nigeria with about 53 million cases annually (one in four residents) and 81,640 deaths annually (nine deaths per hour) from the disease.

However, there is hope of ending malaria as a vaccine has been found to surpass the 75 per cent efficacy goal set by the WHO for a malaria vaccine to receive a nod.

The findings come from the first 12 months of an ongoing phase two trial, which was first launched in Burkina Faso in May 2019 and involves 450 children, aged 5 to 17 months, according to a report by the Independent UK on Friday.

“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,” Nigeria’s health minister Osagie Ehanire said on Friday.

Apart from the potential vaccine, Mr Ehanire said N1.89 trillion will be needed if Nigeria is to achieve a malaria prevalence rate of less than 10 per cent and reduce mortality rate to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2025.

Regional Statistics

Ms Moeti said in 2019, the African region accounted for 94 per cent of both the 229 million malaria cases and 409,000 malaria deaths reported globally.

She said between 2000 and 2019, malaria incidence declined by 29 per cent and deaths by 60 per cent.

She explained that more than 1.2 billion cases and 7.1 million deaths were averted in the region.

“Cabo Verde has maintained zero malaria status since 2018, Algeria was certified malaria free in 2019, and Botswana, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Namibia and South Africa achieved the 2020 milestones of reducing malaria incidence and deaths by 40 per cent compared to 2015.”

Ms Moeti, however, said 36 of the 44 malaria-endemic countries in the region did not achieve these milestones.

“Overall, the region was off track by 37 per cent and 25 per cent for the incidence and deaths milestones respectively.

“While malaria incidence in the region dropped by 9 per cent to 10 per cent every five years between 2000 and 2015, in the last five years, this has slowed to less than 2 per cent,” she said.

Major improvement

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, while speaking during a press conference on Friday said