A new malaria report has shown a slow but steady decline in the national prevalence of malaria from 42 per cent in 2010, 23 per cent in 2018 to 22 per cent in 2021.
The report also showed that malaria prevalence is highest in the North West.
Speaking during the launch of the report in Abuja, the minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said while this may not appear significant at the national level, substantial gains have been observed at the sub-national level.
He said; “We are seeing gains being sustained in getting the general population to adopt key preventive measures. 56 per cent of households own at least one ITN while 36 per cent of household members, 41 per cent of children under 5, and 50 per cent of pregnant women slept under an ITN the night before the survey.
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, the report revealed.
Ehanire said; “When we look at the per cent who slept under an ITN the night before the survey among households with at least one ITN, then we see the percentages rise (59 per cent of household members, 64 per cent of children under 5, and 73 per cent of pregnant women).
This, he said underscores the importance of access, and therefore government’s drive to use all means, including rolling mass campaigns to reach the teaming populations of Nigeria with nets.
The minister, however, observed that malaria prevalence was 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 5 years having more episodes of malaria (not tracked in the current NMIS).
“These call for some shifts in the way we do things especially in promoting health seeking behaviours within the general populace,” he said.