The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has said that the first malaria vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), will be administered in four doses to 5-month-old babies.
WHO also said the vaccine will be effective against the deadliest parasite; especially common in Africa. However, it added that the vaccine is not for adults.
Ehanire said this on Tuesday, August 23, in Abuja. He spoke at the Ministerial bi-weekly meeting on the update of COVID-19 response and development in the country’s health sector.
The 2021 World Malaria Report (WMR 2021), indicates that Nigeria contributes 27 per cent of the global malaria cases and 32 per cent of global malaria deaths.
The minister said that the country witnessed a total of 57 million clinical cases per year; as well as annual deaths of about 100,000.
“It is also estimated that about 60 per cent of all out-patients and 30 per cent of all hospital admissions across the country are due to malaria”, he said.
Ehanire said that vaccines for malaria were still under review; with the first one known to have reduced the risk of malaria by 40 per cent in children in Africa as of 2020.
“The global target of the WHO is to reduce the incidence of malaria by at least 30 per cent by 2030,” he said.
The minister said that malaria remains one of the most common diseases prone to misdiagnosis and self-medication.
“In Nigeria especially, any symptoms of chills, body pain and headache often equal the purchase of anti-malarial drugs; sometimes coupled with typhoid drugs from the nearest pharmacy.
“Although effective in some cases, this ideology can be detrimental to our health; due to complications and increasing resistance to some anti-malarial drugs,” he said.
He said that efforts were in place to combat the malaria scourge.
“Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Nigeria End Malaria Council (NEMC). He mandated it to ensure successful implementation of the programme.
”The right implementation of strategies utilising collaboration and interventions would be based on the resolve of the administration to ensure the protection of the health of Nigerians and in the spirit of one health,” he said.
Ehanire said the objective of the National Malaria Strategic Plan was to seek to improve access and utilisation of vector control interventions; to at least 80 per cent of the targeted population by 2025.
According to the 2010 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS 2010); there has been a continuous decline in malaria from 42 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2015.
In the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2018); there was a further decline in malaria cases from 27 per cent to 23 per cent.
This decline was believed to have resulted from a thorough programme implementation of the National Malaria Strategic Plan.