Nigeria with at least 140 million citizens living in high malaria transmission areas appears to have the highest burden of the disease in the world.Â Global progress towards malaria elimination depends on Nigeria’s progress.Â Yet the 2008 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) shows indicators falling below the targets set for 2005, and therefore well below what was hoped for in 2010 (80% coverage of malaria interventions).
- 16.9% of households have at least one bednet of any kind (16.3% are ITNs)
- 11.9% of children aged <5years had slept under any net (5.5% under ITNs)
- 11.8% of pregnant women had slept under any net (4.8% under ITNs)
- 4.9% of pregnant women had received 2 doses of IPT
- 33.2% of children with suspected malaria took an anti-malarial drug (15.2% got that treatment the same day; 2.4% got an ACT)
Nigeria certainly does not lack resources for malaria control, either from its extensive earnings from the oil industry or from international programs like the Global Fund.Â What then explains the difficulty in achieving malaria targets?
One possible reason can be found in a This Day newspaper whose editorial …
Like a monster that cannot be tamed fuel scarcity in Nigeria seems to have come to stay. What makes this national disaster and embarrassment even more unfortunate is government’s glaring inability to tackle a most basic need of the country. No doubt, this ignoble path, if not arrested, would lead the nation to more desperate social and economic consequences.
Several reasons are proffered for the fuel dilema, but in the end, according to the editorial, “… this country does not have to remain a theatre of winding queues and protracted traffic jams at filling stations. Neither do its citizens deserve to live fuel scarcity – induced mediocre lives. In the absence of respectable energy sources, people have continued to be subjected to all kinds of trauma.”
Part of the trauma is lack of malaria commodities – nets, medicines – at the front line where children are dying from the disease. Supply chains, whether in the public or private sector are threatened, and prices increase with scarcity. Provision of supervision and technical assistance from national to state to local government to front line health facility and return of timely data in the other direction is thwarted when there is no fuel.
Nigeria may not be able to eliminate malaria until it can eliminate fuel shortages.