PRO/EAFR> Malaria – Nigeria (04): economic burden


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Fri 16 Jun 2023
Source: The Sun [edited]

Malaria remains a significant public health problem in Nigeria,
imposing a heavy economic burden on households and hindering the
socioeconomic growth of the country. With over 40% of the population
suffering from at least one episode of malaria annually and an
alarming number of deaths attributed to the disease, urgent action is
required to address this issue. According to available records,
malaria is responsible for 60% of outpatient visits to health
facilities, 30% of childhood deaths, 25% of deaths in children under
one year, and 11% of maternal deaths.

The economic impact of malaria in Nigeria is profound, affecting not
only individual households but also the broader health system and
workforce. A study has shown that the cost of treating malaria and
other illnesses depleted 7.03% of the monthly average household
income, with the treatment of malaria cases alone contributing 2.91%
of these costs. This financial burden is particularly catastrophic for
poorer households and rural dwellers who are already vulnerable.

To effectively address the economic burden of malaria, it is crucial
to estimate the magnitude of the problem and advocate for increased
investments in public health, specifically targeting malaria
prevention and treatment. Data on the economic burden of malaria
provide essential information on who bears the costs and can serve as
a basis for engaging with Ministries of Finance and donors to secure
additional resources.

Recent studies have revealed that while there is equal exposure and
incidence of malaria across socioeconomic groups, the costs of
treating malaria cases vary among different groups and geographical
locations. Furthermore, payments for treating malaria cases are
predominantly made through out-of-pocket expenses, which
disproportionately burden poor households. This highlights the urgent
need for financial risk protection mechanisms to alleviate the
economic strain on households. To mitigate the economic burden of
malaria in Nigeria, a multifaceted approach is necessary.

Firstly, concerted and sustained efforts must be made to prevent
malaria through effective mosquito control, distribution of
insecticide-treated bed nets, and widespread education on prevention
methods. By reducing the number of malaria cases, the economic burden
on households will naturally decrease.

Risk protection mechanisms should be implemented to buffer both the
direct and indirect costs of malaria treatment. This could involve the
introduction of health insurance schemes that cover malaria-related
expenses, ensuring that households are not forced to bear the full
financial burden themselves. By sharing the costs across a larger
pool, the impact on individual households can be significantly

Again, strengthening the healthcare system is crucial to reducing the
economic burden of malaria. Improving access to quality healthcare
services and ensuring efficient delivery can lead to earlier diagnosis
and prompt treatment, thereby reducing the costs associated with
severe cases and hospitalizations. Additionally, investing in research
and policy development to identify best practices for risk pooling and
risk protection mechanisms tailored to the Nigerian context is

Indeed, the economic burden of malaria on households in Nigeria is
substantial and calls for immediate action. By implementing
multipronged approaches that prioritize preventive efforts, establish
risk protection mechanisms, and strengthen the healthcare system, it
is possible to alleviate the economic strain caused by malaria.
Investing in the fight against malaria is not only a public health
imperative but also a critical step toward ensuring socioeconomic
development and improved quality of life for all Nigerians. To do
this, reliable data on the prevalence and distribution of malaria are
crucial for informed decision-making. Enhancing surveillance systems
will enable policymakers to allocate resources effectively, target
high-risk areas, and monitor the impact of interventions.

Accurate data will facilitate evidence-based policymaking and help
measure progress towards malaria elimination goals. We believe that
addressing the economic burden of malaria on households in Nigeria
requires a multisectoral approach, involving government agencies,
healthcare providers, communities, and international partners. By
investing in healthcare infrastructure, implementing prevention
strategies, promoting research and development, and strengthening data
collection, Nigeria can make significant strides in reducing the
economic burden of malaria and improving the well-being of its

It is imperative that the government and stakeholders prioritize this
issue and commit adequate resources to combat malaria effectively. By
doing so, Nigeria can pave the way for a healthier population and a
more prosperous future for all.

[Byline: Victor Okeke]

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