Africa loses N2.4t to malaria annually

The report added that malaria control interventions helped advance broader development efforts by reducing school absenteeism, fighting poverty, increasing gender parity and improving maternal and child health

Africa loses about N2.4 trillion ($12 billion) in productivity to malaria annually, a report released by Roll Back Malaria ahead of the commemoration of the 2015 World Malaria Day, says.

A statement by Oluseyi Soremekun, the National Information Officer of the UN Information Centre, said the 2015 World Malaria Day is the last under the UN Millennium Development Goals.

According to the report, some countries on the continent spend as much as 40 per cent of their public health expenditure on malaria.

The report said: “Malaria costs the African continent an estimated minimum of US $12 billion in lost productivity.

“And in some high-burden countries, it can account for as much as 40 per cent of public health expenditure.”

The report added that malaria control interventions helped advance broader development efforts by reducing school absenteeism, fighting poverty, increasing gender parity and improving maternal and child health.

It said lives saved from malaria control interventions had been linked to a 20 per cent reduction in all-cause child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000.

It explained that the interventions had helped to drive progress against MDGs 4, while efforts to prevent malaria in pregnancy had averted nearly 95,000 new born deaths between 2009 and 2012.

The report added: “These numbers represent an entire generation given the chance to live healthy lives and grow into strong, contributing members of their societies; still, efforts continue to leave communities behind.

“In Africa alone, 10,000 women and as many as 200,000 infants are estimated to die annually as a result of malaria infection during pregnancy.

“In 2013, an estimated 15 million of the 35 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa did not receive a single dose of preventive treatment during their pregnancy to protect them and their unborn children from malaria.”

The report said in response, the RBM partnership had issued a global call to action to increase national coverage with preventive treatment in pregnancy.

It said adequate and predictable financing and innovations for new tools would be critical to scale-up interventions and continue progress toward ambitious malaria elimination targets.

It said: “International and domestic financing peaked at U.S. $2.6 billion (about N520 billion) in 2013.

“This remains significantly lower than the $5.1 billion (approximately N1 trillion) RBM estimates is needed annually to achieve universal access and meet global targets.

“Experts estimate that just more than  $100 billion (approximately N20 trillion) is needed to completely eliminate malaria by 2030.”

The report said while investment in eliminating malaria carried a high price tag, it nevertheless carried a significant return as a potential 12 million lives would be saved.

It added that nearly three billion cases would be averted worldwide and a global gain of $270 billion (approximately N54 trillion) if the disease is eliminated in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

It said later in the year, the RBM Partnership would launch its second generation global malaria action plan: Action and Investment to defeat Malaria (AIM) 2016-2030: for Malaria-Free World.

It said the plan, together with the WHO’s updated Global Technical Strategy: 2016-2030, made the case for eliminating the scourge of malaria over the next 15 years.

The report added that the plan would also avoid the resurgence of the disease, with its associated crippling economic cost and avoidable deaths.

The report quoted Dr. Pedro Alonso, the Director of the World Health Organisation’s Global Malaria Programme, as stressing the need to sustain the progress made in fight against malaria.

Alonso said: “Over the past 15 years, we have seen that we have the tools necessary to overcome malaria and unlock potential in communities around the world.

“Now, more than ever, we must continue working together in partnership.

“We must also make bold investments in malaria so that we can deliver on the promises we’ve made to the people of the world.”

It said with just months before the MDGs expire and transit to an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals 2030, RBM partners would mark the progress made against malaria.

It quoted the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, as saying: “Malaria control has proven to be one of the smartest investments in health we can make.

“This is why it is one of my priorities. When we target our funds in proven malaria control interventions, we create healthier communities and more robust economies.

“Now more than ever, partnership will be crucial to ensure we can build on our successes and leave no one behind.”

It said the latest report by WHO showed that malaria mortality rates had decreased by 47 per cent worldwide since 2000.

It added that the WHO report showed that malaria mortality rates decreased by 54 per cent in Africa, which accounted for 80 per cent global malaria cases.

The World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly.

The World Malaria Day is celebrated on April 25 each year to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria control and elimination.

The theme for the 2013-2015 campaign is: Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria.”