Despite the impressive progress that has been made in reducing the number of deaths, 100,000 people still die from malaria every year. Hence, The Malaria Consortium’s Nigeria office has said that Donors and governments must continue to fund the fight against malaria in Nigeria.

Dr. Kolawole Maxwell who was in London for the World Malaria Day yesterday said: “We are looking inwards to see what we can do to ensure that we continue to get the attention of governments and donors to keep the funding going.”

According to the report released by the World Health Organisation on malaria, Europe had no indigenous cases of malaria, down from 90,000 cases in 1995. Eight other countries reported zero cases in 2014: Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates. The report called for a global commitment to remove malaria from at least 35 new countries by 2030 – a goal it described as “ambitious but achievable”.

WHO commends the countries that have been able to get rid of the disease. However, it highlights the urgent need for greater investment in reducing the high rates of malaria transmission, particularly in Africa.

The WHO said a 60% global decline in deaths came through insecticide-treated bednets, indoor residual spraying, rapid diagnostic testing and artemisinin-based combination therapies. But it noted that mosquito resistance to insecticides used in nets and spraying is growing, as is parasite resistance to a component in a powerful antimalarial medicine.

Last year, 214 million cases of malaria were reported in 95 countries, and more than 400,000 people died of malaria. Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo still account for 35% of deaths.

Maxwell said Nigeria had made impressive progress under an eight-year, UK aid-funded support to national malaria programme. Integrating this programme into existing health systems had been critical. The effects of strengthening the health system were evident in the way Nigeria reacted quickly to the Ebola threat, Maxwell said, and work against other diseases including polio and Lassa fever has also benefited.

The private sector also needed to define its role in the battle, he said. “I’m talking about people making profits from health products, like nets and drugs. We can now engage with a population that is middle class, that have some resources, and [the private sector] can start asking them what would be their preferences in some of these commodities, and increase and expand the market.”

Author: Ope Adedeji