4,500 pregnant women die annually from malaria, says group
Dr Emmanuel Otolorin, Country Director, Jhpiego, an International NGO, on Thursday said that more than 4, 500 pregnant women died yearly from malaria.
Otolorin said this in Abuja at the dissemination of findings of Community Directed Intervention for the Prevention of Malaria in Pregnancy and in Children carried out in Akwa Ibom state.
He said that malaria was also the leading cause of under-five deaths.
``The Nigerian Demographic Health Survey of 2003 and 2008 showed the utilisation of key evidence-based interventions for the prevention and control of malaria in pregnancy was abysmally low.
``Malaria is highly endemic in Nigeria and poses a major challenge, as it impedes human development, causing about 4,500 deaths in pregnant women yearly.
``It is both a cause and a consequence of underdevelopment and remains one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity.”
He said that the Akwa Ibom experience showed that malaria in pregnancy could be reduced through global and national strategies with the help of public and private partnership.
He said that there was a success in Akwa Ibom, which could be replicated in other states.
Otolorin said success was recorded with the help of health workers and volunteers going into communities to administer malaria prevention drugs,
He said that the Intermittent Prevention Therapy drug was meant to be taken twice from the second trimester of pregnancy, adding that this would prevent any occurrence of malaria.
He, however, added that there was the need for an effective policy to reduce malaria in pregnancy and in children.
The National President of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health, Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, emphasised the role of NGOs in reducing malaria burden in Nigeria.
According to him, NGOs advocate for change in government policies, which is important for development.
He said that it was saddening that Nigeria depended on donor funding for health, adding that philanthropists could invest in health development in the country.
He said that the Nigerian government could invest more in health by reducing donor funding, which stood at 75 per cent.
Ladipo advised government to fund health through the help of the NGOs to reduce the country’s health burden.
``The local NGOs have demonstrated capacity and enormous potentials to contribute significantly, towards health development in Nigeria; through feasible community and facility based approaches.
``They are in a better position to collaborate with government at all levels, towards the achievement of MDGs,'' he said.