Nigeria is faced with several health problems which include the likes of malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hypertension, diabetes etc.
Of these diseases, there are specific ones that rank at the top and these are the three most common diseases in the country namely: HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria.
Health Problems in Nigeria & Solutions
In this post, we take a look at these major diseases and their prevalence rate.
In 2014, it was revealed that the HIV prevalence rate among adults between the ages of 15 and 49 was 3.17% which made Nigeria the second-largest number of people living with HIV.
However, the HIV epidemic in Nigeria is complex as it varies from state to state. In some states, the epidemic is more concentrated and it is caused by high-risk behaviors. On the other hand, there are states with more generalized epidemics and the spread of the disease is sustained by multiple sexual partnerships in the general population.
Also, it has been discovered that youth and young adults in Nigeria are more susceptible to HIV, with young women at higher risk than young men.
Some of these risk factors include prostitution, high-risk practices among itinerant workers, high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI), clandestine high-risk heterosexual and homosexual practices, international trafficking of women, and irregular blood screening.
As part of the fight to combat the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the government agency, NACA was set up. This agency is responsible for the control of AIDS and since its establishment; Nigeria has recorded a steady decline in HIV prevalence from a peak of 5.8% in 2001 to 3.0% in 2014.
One of the major responsibilities of NACA is to address the dearth of knowledge on HIV and it does this by providing information to the general populace on HIV/AIDS.
NACA also facilitates all stakeholder HIV/AIDS activities in the country
Additionally, there are not-for-profit agencies that are actively involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. These include the likes of the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which have channeled billions of dollars to Nigeria to stem the tide of HIV prevalence.
Apart from these top donor agencies, there are scores of HIV/AIDS NGOs that have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the prevalence of the disease in the country.
Nigeria is ranked 7th amongst the high TB burden countries in the world. The country is also ranked second in Africa. The TB data on Nigeria also indicates that Nigeria is among the ten countries that account for an estimated 80% of the global gap in TB case finding.
Also, it has been revealed by the Federal Ministry of Health that over 80% of tuberculosis cases in Nigeria were still undetected and the disease claims over 1.5 million lives annually in the country.
Basically, TB is spread from person to person through the air. The process of infection is when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air and a person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
It is said that one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
Generally, people infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.
If a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms include cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care and results in transmission of the bacteria to others.
Individuals with active TB can infect 10–15 other people through close contact over the course of a year and when TB isn’t treated properly, 45% of HIV-negative people with TB on average while nearly all HIV-positive people with TB will die.
However, TB is a treatable and curable disease. Active, drug-susceptible TB disease is treated with a standard 6-month course of 4 antibiotics. It is important that treatment is supervised by a health worker or trained volunteer.
Between 2000 and 2015, it was reported that an estimated 49 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment.
When it comes to the prevalence of malaria, Nigeria is a high-burden country with an estimated 51 million cases each year and 97% of the population at risk of the infection
Additionally, malaria accounts for 60% of outpatient visits to hospitals and the disease is responsible for approximately 11% maternal mortality and 30% child mortality, especially among children less than 5 years.
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum, and the mosquitoes Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles funestus, Anopheles arabiensis, and Anopheles moucheti are the major vectors that cause year-round transmission.
Artemisinin-based combination therapy is used in treating malaria which includes artemether-lumefantrine (AL) or artesunate + amodiaquine (AS + AQ).
Malaria is responsible for a reduction in the country’s economic productivity to the tune of an estimated monetary loss of approximately N132 billion in treatment costs, prevention, and other indirect costs.
Since 2008, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) in Nigeria has adopted a specific plan and the goal of this plan is to reduce 50% of the malaria burden by 2013 by achieving at least 80% coverage of long-lasting impregnated mosquito nets (LLINs), together with other measures, such as 20% of houses in targeted areas receiving indoor residual spraying (IRS), and treatment with two doses of intermittent preventative therapy (IPT) for 100% of pregnant women who visit antenatal care clinics. Because of these measures, the percentage of households with at least one LLIN increased to over 70% by 2010, compared to only 5% in 2008. Although previous studies have documented a high prevalence of malaria throughout Nigeria, there remains a paucity of research on people’s knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) towards malaria in the majority of the federation, particularly in Northern Nigeria.