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The Impact of Malaria

As malaria’s incidence increases, so too will morbidity and mortality rates. Malaria is endemic in Nigeria, and the population at highest risk includes children, pregnant women, and the non-immune. Along with malarial morbidity and mortality come economic losses. Social and economic consequences are directly related to the severity of the malaria’s increased morbidity and mortality. As a result of malaria, children spend days away from school and adults lose workdays. Age distribution of the population also has an effect on the burden of disease. In highly endemic areas, the older population develops some collective immunity to malaria so the severity of malaria attacks is less than in children under five. Plasmodium ovale is less fatal than Plasmodium falciparum. Since Plasmodium ovale is more prevalent in non-endemic areas, in these areas the burden of disease is less than in endemic areas where malaria is due to the fatal Plasmodium falciparum.

Currently, studies show that any increase in the disease burden of malaria as expressed in terms of DALYS is an unsustainable development. The level of socio-economic development in a country usually affects how much is invested in health care, which in turn affects the health outcomes and severity of diseases like malaria. Like a vicious cycle, the health outcomes affect income and capital, which in turn affects the economic development of the country. Nigeria’s 6% allocation of its annual national budget to the healthcare sector is low and has resulted in poor health outcomes and an increase in the severity of diseases like malaria.

These poor health outcomes are partially responsible for its low gross national income per capita (GNI) of US$260. [5] In the cause and effect relationship between malaria and economic growth, it is also possible that the severity of malaria leads to poor health outcomes which in turn leads to a low gross national income and poor economic growth.