By Ndidichukwu Odoh

Annually about 53 million cases of Malaria is recorded in Nigeria, 9 out of the people infected die every one hour, Nigeria’s National Malaria Elimination Programme has said.

Malaria elimination in Nigeria would be possible if there is improved sanitation and behavioural change among the people, however, the National Malaria Elimination Programme which is responsible for management and elimination of Malaria in Nigeria says low funding to the program makes it difficult to achieve its goals.

Approximately N168.71bn ($551,354,810) is needed to fill funding gap for the provision of vaccine, mosquito nets, medicine and injection in the nation’s quest to eradicate malaria by the year 2020.

In a media parley on Monday in Abuja, The Deputy Director, NMEP, Tim Obot, said Malaria kills about 81,640 people every year.

The NMEP fears that the huge funding gap could increase morbidity and mortality in the country, at the moment, the Federal Government and International Agencies sponsors programs but the needs are much more higher than the resources available to NMEP.

One of the concerns to the NMEP is that “poor health due to poor management of malaria prevalence across Nigeria could also have adverse effect on the nation’s economic development” Obot noted.

Tax and other waivers which could cost up to N596.58bn is made available by the Nigerian Government for anti-malaria commodities procured under the global fund malaria grant and procurement of other drugs. Obot, however, said that investment in malaria eradication programme by global donors and the Federal Government had waned in recent time.

The NMEP reports that between 2016 and 2017, Nigeria contribution dropped considerably, leaving a huge gap in malaria eradication campaign.

The NMEP National Coordinator, Bala Mohammed, said although Nigeria made significant gains in the control of malaria, the gains were being lost.

“For us to ensure that we can walk into a health facility and get treatment after being tested positive for malaria, we have to fill the present huge gap of $551,354,810 (N168.71bn) that we have. There are 13 states that are without support in Nigeria. The Nigerian government has to look for support from global partners including the Africa Development Bank, World Health Organisation, and United States Agency for International Development. Talk on that is still going on. Those states need $350m (N126bn) for the malaria pragmatic needs.” He added.