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Walter Reed Program-Nigeria Trains Over 1,800 Medical Laboratory Scientists to Strengthen Malaria Diagnosis
Today, the world commemorates World Malaria Day under the theme “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement.” This year’s theme emphasizes the need for urgent action as funding for malaria control and eradication faces competition from other public health concerns and global challenges.
According to the WHO World Malaria Report in 2022, there were 247 million malaria cases and 619,000 deaths from malaria in 2021, with Nigeria being one of the 84 malaria-endemic countries contributing to this statistic.
Although significant investments have been made toward eradicating malaria over the years, annual global malaria case reduction has been followed by a marked increase. For instance, while the malaria case incidence reduced from 82 per 1000 population at risk in 2000 to 57 in 2019, it rose to 59 in 2020, with the possibility of a further increase in the coming years. The decrease in funding, among others, has been identified as a possible cause for this trend.
At the Walter Reed Program-Nigeria (WRP-N), we recognize that accurate diagnosis is critical for effective malaria case management, control, and clinical cure since malaria symptoms are not specific to malaria and can be confused with other infectious diseases.
With support from the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) through the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), WRP-N carries out capacity-building activities aimed at improving the accuracy of malaria diagnosis in 11 states in Nigeria. Between 2012 and now, over 1800 medical laboratory scientists have been successfully trained to accurately diagnose malaria in their healthcare facilities.
As we join the rest of the world to observe World Malaria Day today, we reaffirm our commitment to strengthening malaria diagnosis across Nigeria. We also call on all stakeholders to work toward eradicating malaria.
Written by Ndukwe Ukoha and Naomi Oboyi for Walter Reed Program Nigeria.