Malaria still highest cause of under 5s, maternal deaths in Nigeria — commissioner

Betta Edu, Cross River commissioner for Health says malaria remains the highest cause of under-fives and maternal mortality in Nigeria.

Edu said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Calabar, while reacting to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) approval of a malaria vaccine.

The commissioner said that apart from being responsible for the death of many in Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria accounts for the highest number of visits to the hospital in Nigeria.

She said that the vaccine was a welcome development, as it would help to lift the economic burden on families, the nation, and the health system in Nigeria.

“We all know the menace malaria has caused in Nigeria, 11 percent of maternal mortality is attributed to malaria and it is the highest cause of deaths among under-fives children.

“There is also the economic burden, as in Nigeria there is hardly any family that doesn’t treat malaria at least once or twice in a year.

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“So, if we must end malaria, there is that urgency to have the malaria vaccine, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“I commend the researchers and indeed the medical world, I encourage Nigerians to avail themselves of the vaccine when it gets to the nation,’’ she said.

Edu noted that the world had always had vaccines to fight different diseases such as polio, hepatitis, measles, smallpox, COVID-19 and had succeeded in eradicating some of the diseases.

She said that with the vaccine, there was hope that malaria could actually be eradicated in the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that according to WHO data in 2019, Africa recorded 94 percent of malaria cases and deaths.

The data also showed that six countries accounted for approximately half of all malaria deaths worldwide.

Nigeria recorded 23 percent, DR Congo 11 percent, Tanzania five percent, Burkina Faso four percent, Mozambique and Niger four percent each.

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