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Let’s end malaria for good

An estimated 445,000 people (mostly pregnant women and children aged below five) die every year from malaria. Africa accounts for over 90  per cent  of global  malaria  cases and deaths, and records economic losses to the tune of $12 billion per year in direct losses, including 1.3 per cent loss in annual GDP.

According to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, RBMP, Nigeria is the highest  malaria-burden country, accounting for 27  percent  of global  malaria  cases and almost a  third of related deaths.    Malaria  is a risk for 97 per cent of the Nigerian  population and  contributes to an estimated 11 per cent of maternal mortality.

April is set to be a crucial month in the fight against one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases  as political  and business  leaders, scientists and activists unite to beat malaria at various events worldwide.

This year marks the 10th World  Malaria  Day,  on April 25,  an internationally recognised day to shine the spotlight on the  global efforts to prevent, control and end  malaria.

Part of the  continued call for leaders to “unite and fight” malaria, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, CHOGM, being hosted in London,  is the  Malaria Must Die  campaign,  a global  effort  backed by a wide coalition of organisations and celebrities.

Nigeria is keying into the global action being taken in view of the World  Malaria  Day. Among these is the  End  Malaria  World  Festival  planned for April 24-25  in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

But the  malaria  fight is at a crossroads  and if the world does not  seize the moment now, hard-won gains against the disease  may  be lost.

The world needs to beat  malaria  for several reasons. Since 2000,  11 countries have successfully eliminated  malaria. Malaria-related deaths have been cut by more than half, saving nearly seven million lives.  However,  child deaths through malaria are still too high.

After a decade of progress,  malaria  cases have increased for the first time, and funding for  treatments and prevention has become static.    In 2016,  malaria  cases rose for the first time in a decade and there were 216 million cases  and 445,000 deaths.

As we come together as a global community to renew political commitment, step up funding, speed up scientific innovations and spur citizen and community action,  high malaria-burden  countries like Nigeria  must  step up too. From the highest political level down to local communities, Nigeria must ensure a renewed attention and commitment towards ending  malaria  for good.

With renewed focus and commitment, this  could be the generation to end one of the oldest and deadliest diseases in human history.  The world is ready to beat  malaria. Nigeria must also be ready.


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