In 2015, malaria remained the leading cause of death in Nigeria with 192,284 deaths recorded, followed by HIV/AIDS with 143,689 deaths, while diarrhea became the third top causes of death with 131,873 deaths, according to the Executive Director, Centre for Healthy Star Initiative and Global Burden of Disease Collaborator, Dr. Bolajoko Olusanya.
She said while malaria remains the leading cause of death in Nigeria, the number of deaths caused by scourge fell from 227,645 in 1990 to 192,284 in 2015.
According to her, malaria death figures can be further reduced when the National Malaria Elimination Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health is supported, adding that the universally accepted interventions of the programme can further reduce the death rates yearly if every Nigerian support and follow the interventions.
“These interventions include prompt and effective case management, intermittent prevention treatment of malaria in pregnancy and the integrated vector management with the use of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLITNs), residual spraying and environmental management.”
According to her, unfavourable health-seeking behaviour resulting from poor perceptions, need to be addressed through a better public understanding of malaria and related issues, especially in rural communities, adding that, malaria in pregnancy is a major source of avoidable deaths. “The problem of malaria resistant drugs also needs to be addressed,” she adds.
Olusanya said several nations in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria were rebounding from high death rates due to HIV/AIDS, while child deaths were falling fast, as were illnesses related to infectious diseases. “But each country has its own specific challenges and improvements, from fewer suicides in France, to lower death rates on Nigerian roadways, to a reduction in asthma-related deaths in Indonesia.
“Nigerians are living longer lives than they were 25 years ago, according to a new scientific analysis of more than 300 diseases and injuries in 195 countries. However, such progress is threatened by increasing numbers of people suffering from serious health challenges related to childhood wasting, unsafe water sources, and unsafe sex,” she added.
According to her, these and other significant health findings were being published in a dedicated issue of The Lancet as part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD). The study, she said, draws on the work of more than 1,800 collaborators in nearly 130 countries and territories.
She said other findings of GBD for Nigeria include, “a child born in Nigeria in 2015 can expect to live to the age of 65, while that child’s parent, born in 1990, has a life expectancy of 54. While the world has made great progress in reducing deaths of young children, globally 5.8 million children under the age of five died in 2015. Of that global figure, 726,576 of those children were in Nigeria. The number of under five deaths in Nigeria in 1990 was 855,261,” she explained.
Olusanya said despite the mortality rate for three neonatal outcomes is decreasing, neonatal sepsis, neonatal encephalopathy due to birth asphyxia and trauma, and neonatal preterm birth complications account for 5.55 per cent, 4.12 per cent and 2.91 per cent of total deaths, respectively.
“Nigeria has made progress in reducing the maternal mortality ratio, which fell from 471 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 285 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015,” she said.