Home EDITORIAL Mosquito Bites and Maleria: Need to realign efforts to eradicate the high malaria mortality in Africa

Mosquito Bites and Maleria: Need to realign efforts to eradicate the high malaria mortality in Africa

by News Echo
4 minutes read

Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading malaria, a disease that kills over half a million people every year. When Ronald Ross discovered that mosquitoes transmit malaria in 1897, he revolutionized our understanding of the disease and led to increased awareness about malaria prevention.

The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid bites by infected mosquitoes. Insecticide-treated nets, preventive treatment for pregnant women and infants, and indoor residual spraying are all ways to reduce transmission, but the prevalence of mosquitoes in hard-hit areas like Sub-Saharan Africa pose a challenge to eradication measures.
Mosquitoes, those tiny blood-sucking insects, are responsible for transmitting serious diseases such as malaria. With no vaccine currently available, malaria — an ancient disease that began afflicting humans from the beginning of agriculture and modern civilization — remains a deadly threat to people around the world.

Caused by Plasmodium parasites, malaria shows up in historic texts as far back as the first millennium BCE. In fact, the first traces of malaria parasites were found in mosquito remains that are over 30 million years old!
Malaria has affected every continent except Antarctica, and remains a widespread problem in parts of the world including Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean.

Over 200 million people still contract malaria each year. In 2010, 90% of malaria deaths occurred in Africa. The World Health Organization reports concerns about drug-resistant malaria, which can hamper efforts to reduce the spread of the disease.

World Mosquito Day honors the date when Sir Ronald Ross, a British army surgeon working in India, proved that mosquitoes transmit malaria by identifying pigmented malaria parasites in mosquitoes that fed on an infected patient. This discovery revolutionized our knowledge of the disease and led to new preventive measures. Ross won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, there was an increase of sixty-nine thousand deaths caused by malaria from the year 2019 to 2020. Therefore, the estimated number of deaths in the year 2020 was six lakh twenty-seven thousand. Furthermore, the reports revealed that malaria is disproportionately the highest in the WHO African Region. About 95% of malaria cases and 96% of deaths from the disease were from the respective region. Out of the total, 80% of the deaths were of children under 5 years of age.

However, the 2018 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) states that the country’s immunisation coverage rate is very low.
According to the survey, only 31 per cent of children between the ages 12 to 23 months received all basic vaccinations at the time before the survey, while 28 per cent received the basic vaccination by the appropriate age of 12 months and 19 per cent received no vaccination at all.

The fight against malaria experienced some setbacks worldwide in 2020. The outbreak of coronavirus shifted global attention towards its fight and prevention and away from diseases such as malaria.
The result was an increase in deaths from malaria from 558,000 in 2019 to 627,000 in 2020. Also, the number of cases increased from 227 million in 2019 to 241 million in 2020. This shows a 6.17% increase in incidents and a 12.37% increase in deaths to malaria in 2020.

Findings revealed that Nigeria accounted for 26.7% of malaria cases and 31.8% of the total deaths globally. The number of cases increased from 60.37 million in 2019 to 64.46 million in 2020, representing a 6.8% increase. The number of deaths also increased from 187,437 in 2019 to 199,689 in 2020, a 6.5% increase within the period.
Total funding for the fight against malaria in 2020, as reported by the government from all sources dropped from $211.28 million in 2019 to $192.89 in 2020. This shows that there was an 8.7% drop in total spending.

A breakdown of the funding shows that government National Malaria Program (NMP) funding dropped from $9.9 million in 2019 to $6.1 million in 2020. Global funding to the Nigerian government dropped from $131.37 million to $116.79 million. Thus, the government NMP and global funding dropped by 38.39% and 11.06% respectively.
However, funding from USIAD remained the same for both years. This stood at $70 million for both 2019 and 2020.

In 2020, there was a drop in the number of commodities distributed in the country. ITNs dropped from 32.36 million in 2019 to 25.52 million in 2020. In 2021, the distribution of ITN continued, and as of October, Nigeria achieved just 47% of its planned net distribution for the year.

Also, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) dropped from 26.31 million in 2019 to 15.59 in 2020. These declines show a 41.9% drop in ITNs and a 40.7% in RDTs.
Malaria affects households and communities, and these communities need to be empowered to play an active role in the fight against this disease.

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