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Nigeria accounts for 30% of global malaria deaths says MSF, helps reduce cases of disease

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By Anthony Maliki, Abuja

Medicines sans Frontières (MSF) says Nigeria has the highest burden of malaria globally, accounting for nearly 30% of the total malaria deaths in the world.

It says as a major public health concern in Nigeria, with an estimated 194,000 malaria deaths were recorded for the year 2021.

In a statement from the MSF, it explained that the disease is present all year round, with the northwest and northeast parts of the country mostly affected due to limited access to healthcare and preventive measures.

From January to November 2023, MSF treated around 250,000 patients with malaria across its different project locations in Nigeria.

The organisation pointed out that it is during malaria peak from the middle of July until mid-October that higher mortality rates, with pregnant women and young children being the most affected.

According to medical coordinator for Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) in Nigeria, Dr. Hubert Kashama, “around 70% of the patients received in the MSF-supported hospitals of Shinkafi and Zurmi in northwest Nigeria are treated for malaria, we keep seeing this disease as the top morbidity every year”.

It pointed out that MSF medical teams respond to malaria in its medical facilities across North-West, North-East, and Central States in Nigeria with rapid diagnostic tests, artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) treatment, and intravenous antimalarials for complicated cases.

The International Medical Humanitarian Organisation also adapts to peak season by increasing its capacities in human resources, bed capacity, and medical supplies.

In Zamfara State, northwest Nigeria, the inadequate functioning of primary healthcare facilities and insecurity make access to healthcare extremely challenging for the population.

Malaria is easy to treat if treatment is administered at the early stage of the disease but in this context, patients with severe malaria often arrive late to the MSF-supported facilities located at Zurmi and Shinkafi general hospitals, and at the paediatrics units in Gummi and Talata Mafara, presenting complications thus increasing the risk of death.

According to the statement, Malaria can be prevented by reducing the exposure to mosquito bites by using mosquito nets.

“This is highly efficient in reducing malaria infection but unfortunately, nearly half of the children in Zamfara don’t have access or don´t regularly sleep under mosquito nets,” it said.

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