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No fewer than 207,000 Nigerians, majorly children and pregnant women die of malaria every year .
This is said to be 30 per cent while 97 per cent of the total population (approximately 173 million) is said to be at risk of infection
PLATFORM TIMES gathered that not less than 51 million cases of malaria recorded yearly in Nigeria.
An estimated sum of N2.04 trillion is being spent on treatments of malaria epidemic yearly in Nigeria.
Findings showed that a Nigerian spends an average of N1,850 to treat one bout of uncomplicated malaria (totalling N94.35 billion yearly), and an average of N20,000 for one bout of complicated malaria (totalling N2.04 trillion yearly).
The Federal Government spends about 55 per cent of recurrent health budget yearly on malaria prevention and control – that is N319.451 billion of N580.82 billion health budget for 2023.
Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Lagos Chapter, Gbolagade Iyiola, told The Guardian that the estimated cost for an individual to treat uncomplicated malaria in Nigeria ranges from approximately N700 to N3000, depending on the type of treatment, and the healthcare facility visited.
Iyiola added that the cost for treating complicated malaria could be significantly higher, ranging from N20,000 to N60,000, or more.
On the cost to the Nigerian government, the consultant pharmacist said: “This cost includes expenditures on healthcare facilities, medication, and personnel. The exact cost is difficult to estimate, but it is estimated that the government spends approximately 50 to 60 per cent of its healthcare budget on malaria control, prevention, and treatment.”
He further said that the cost to the Nigerian economy is significant.
“Malaria is a major public health challenge in Nigeria, and its impact extends beyond the healthcare sector. Costs to the economy include both direct costs such as healthcare expenditures, as well as indirect costs such as lost productivity due to illness and death. Malaria reduces productivity, increases healthcare costs, and affects tourism and foreign investment. According to the WHO, the economic burden of malaria in Nigeria is estimated to be $1.1 billion per year.
“Nigeria suffers the world’s greatest malaria burden, with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths reported yearly (approximately 30 per cent of the total malaria burden in Africa), while 97 per cent of the total population (approximately 173 million) is at risk of infection. Malaria remains a significant burden in Nigeria, particularly in children under five years of age, and pregnant women.
“It accounts for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to hospitals and led to approximately 11 per cent maternal mortality and 30 per cent child mortality, especially among children less than five years,” Iyiola said.
Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Delta State, Dr Kingsley Chiedu Amibor, showed that the average amount charged per patient for treating uncomplicated malaria in private hospitals is N3,941.
The average amount spent on antimalarial drugs is about N2,443, while N1,064 is spent on laboratory investigation, and N406 for medical consultation.
Amibor added that in private pharmacies, the cost of treating uncomplicated malaria as at April 2023 ranges from N2,000 to N3,000, and laboratory tests for malaria is N1,000 on the average, while the amount charged for medicines is inclusive of the Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) and analgesics.
The consultant pharmacist said for severe malaria in private hospitals, the treatment costs range from N5,000 to N8,000, while in public hospitals, the costs range from N1,200 to N2,500, depending on the brand of antimalarial used for uncomplicated malaria. For severe malaria (complicated), it ranges from N1,500 to N4,000 – again, depending on the brand of drugs on offer.
On the cost to the government, Amibor said the Federal Government has secured credits from three multilateral banks (the World Bank, African Development Bank, and Islamic Development Bank) totalling $364 million to fund health sector interventions in 13 states of the Federation for five years (2020–2024) for malaria.
He said in response to the malaria epidemic and to guide implementation, the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) initiated the High Burden High Impact (HBHI) approach with technical support from the WHO and technical partners to address the malaria situation in Nigeria.
Amibor said the current 2021–2025 National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP) is based on the vision of achieving a malaria-free Nigeria with a goal of reducing malaria morbidity to less than 10 per cent parasite prevalence and mortality attributable to malaria to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 by 2025.
On the cost of malaria to the economy, the consultant pharmacist said: “The impact of this devastating disease on the Nigerian economy leaves much to be desired. It affects the country’s economic productivity, resulting in an estimated monetary loss of approximately N132 billion in treatment costs, prevention, and other indirect costs.
“The average direct cost per episode of uncomplicated malaria is estimated at N3,000/$ 4.3 (at N700 per dollar), while the indirect average money equivalence of the time lost due to the ailment is estimated at N2,800, giving an average cost of treating uncomplicated malaria borne by patients in Nigeria per episode to be N5,800/$8.3.
The projected yearly cost of the disease is not less than N128, 921,671,307.22). About 25 per cent of household income is expended on malaria control and treatment. In Nigeria, substantial financial costs for treating malaria are borne by patients.
“The yearly costs of preparing the health system for managing severe malaria with rectal artesunate in Nigeria per child, has been put at $219, (N153, 300). Rectal artesunate has been touted as a cost-effective pre-referral treatment for severe malaria in children.”
According to WHO Fact Sheet on Malaria, the disease is transmitted throughout Nigeria, with 97 per cent of the population at risk of the mosquito-borne ailment.
The duration of the transmission season ranges from year-round transmission in the south to three months or less in the north. According to the 2021 World Malaria Report, Nigeria had the highest number of global malaria cases (27 per cent of global malaria cases) and the highest number of deaths (32 per cent of global malaria deaths) in 2020.The country accounted for an estimated 55.2 per cent of malaria cases in West Africa in 2020.
Malaria is one of the most important public health concerns in the world and, according to the latest WHO World Malaria Report; there were 247 million cases of malaria in 2021 compared to 245 million cases in 2020. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 619,000 in 2021 compared to 625,000 in 2020.
Over the two peak years of the pandemic (2020–2021), COVID-related disruptions led to about 13 million more malaria cases and 63 000 more malaria deaths.
It noted: “The WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. “In 2021 the Region was home to about 95 per cent of all malaria cases and 96 per cent of deaths.
“Children under five years of age accounted for about 80 per cent of all malaria deaths in the Region. Four African countries accounted for just over half of all malaria deaths worldwide: Nigeria (31.3 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12.6 per cent), United Republic of Tanzania (4.1 per cent) and Niger (3.9 per cent).”
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