Nigeria has made important strides towards the elimination of malaria, a 2015 national survey results have confirmed.
According to the 2015 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey (NMIS), about one in four children under five years tested positive for malaria, representing a 35 per cent decline since the last Malaria Indicator survey in 2010, when more than 40 per cent of children tested positive for the disease.
The 2015 NMIS was implemented by the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) Federal Ministry of Health, National Population Commission (NPopC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the survey, there is a marked decrease in prevalence of the disease among children under five and major improvements in prevention and treatment.
Nigeria accounts for 29 per cent of the global burden of malaria and has the highest number of cases of any country, highlighting the need to focus on treatment as well as prevention. Nationwide, malaria prevalence varies widely, ranging from 14 per cent in the South-east Zone to 37 per cent in the North-west Zone.
The results show that the decrease in malaria rates correspond with expanded malaria prevention interventions, as ownership of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) has increased over eight-fold since 2008, when only eight per cent of households owned an ITN. Now, 69 per cent households own at least one ITN.
The study also showed that over one-third of pregnant women took at least two doses of the SP medication to prevent malaria as part of intermittent preventive therapy for malaria in pregnancy (IPTp).
A downward trend according to the study was observed in health seeking behaviours for children with fever between 2010 and 2015, but a higher proportion of children with fever had their blood tested to check for malaria infection before treatment.
Among children who had a fever in the two weeks before the survey and who received an anti malaria, 38 per cent were given artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), the preferred regime