Nigeria, three others top global malaria deaths in 2021 – WHO report

Nigeria accounted for 31 percent of malaria deaths recorded globally in 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

In its world malaria report released on Thursday, the world health agency said despite the continued impact of COVID-19, malaria cases and deaths remained stable in 2021.

According to WHO, there were 247 million malaria cases and 619,000 deaths globally in 2021, an increase of two million cases and a decrease of six million deaths compared to the start of the pandemic in 2019.

The report further stated that Nigeria was among four countries that accounted for almost half of all cases globally and among four countries that accounted for over half of malaria deaths.

“Twenty-nine countries accounted for 96% of malaria cases globally, and four countries – Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%) and Mozambique (4%) – accounted for almost half of all cases globally,” the report reads.

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“About 96% of malaria deaths globally were in 29 countries. Four countries accounted for just over half of all malaria deaths globally in 2021: Nigeria (31%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (13%), the Niger (4%), and the United Republic of Tanzania (4%).”

The WHO said countries around the world largely held the line against further setbacks to malaria prevention, testing, and treatment services in 2021 as opposed to 2020 when the COVID pandemic disrupted malaria services, leading to a marked increase in cases and deaths.

“In 2021, countries distributed 223 million rapid diagnostic tests (RDT), a similar level reported before the pandemic,” the statement reads.

“In 2021, insecticide-treated nets (ITN) distributions were strong overall and at similar levels to pre-pandemic years: 171 million ITNs planned for distribution, 128 million (75%) were distributed.”

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Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said following a marked increase in malaria cases and deaths in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, affected countries redoubled their efforts and were able to mitigate the worst impacts of COVID-related disruptions.

“We face many challenges, but there are many reasons for hope. By strengthening the response, understanding and mitigating the risks, building resilience, and accelerating research, there is every reason to dream of a malaria-free future,” he said.

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