Malaria, HIV remain top killer diseases in Nigeria

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A new global study has found that malaria was the leading killer disease in Nigeria, resulting in 192,284 deaths in 2015 while the second and third top causes of death in Nigeria were diarrheal diseases and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), killing 143,689 and 131,873, respectively.

The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) study, which draws on the work of more than 1,800 collaborators in nearly 130 countries and territories, however, found that the conditions that kill are not typically those that make people sick in Nigeria. In 2015, the top three nonfatal causes of health loss were iron-deficiency anemia, low back pain, and major depression.

According to a new scientific analysis of more than 300 diseases and injuries in 195 countries published over the weekend in the journal The Lancet, 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.

The study showed that more Nigerians are living longer and healthier lives than they were 25 years ago because of higher income, education, and successful birth rates.

The study found that Nigeria has made progress in reducing the maternal mortality ratio, which fell by 39.5 per cent that is from 471 deaths per 100,000 livebirths in 1990 to 285 deaths per 100,000 livebirths in 2015.

The study also found that while malaria remains the leading cause of death in Nigeria, the number of deaths caused by malaria fell by 15.5 per cent that is from 227,645 in 1990 to 192,284 deaths in 2015.

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The report was released at an event co-sponsored by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, United States (U.S.), The Lancet, and the World Bank in Washington, DC.

The study was established in 1990 with support from the World Bank. This year, researchers analyzed each country using a Socio-demographic Index, examining rates of education, fertility, and income. This new categorization goes beyond the historical “developed” versus “developing” or economic divisions based on income alone.

The six papers provide in-depth analyses of causes of death, maternal mortality, deaths of children under age five, overall disease burden and life expectancy, years lived with disability, and the risk factors that lead to health loss.

The study, however, noted that such progress is threatened by increasing numbers of people suffering from serious health challenges related to childhood wasting, unsafe water sources, and unsafe sex.

The significant health findings published in a dedicated issue of The Lancet also found that 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-age-five deaths in Nigeria in 1990 was 855,261.

According to the study, despite the mortality rate for three neonatal outcomes 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.

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Executive Director at the Centre for Healthy Start Initiative and a GBD collaborator, Dr. Bolajoko Olusanya, said: “Despite the limitations of the data sources that formed the basis of these estimates in Nigeria, as with many developing countries, the analytical techniques and the key findings are sufficiently robust.

“This should inspire optimism if appropriate and timely interventions are put in place by the government and its developmental partners to accelerate health progress and the well-being of Nigerians.”

Globally, life expectancy increased from about 62 years to nearly 72 from 1980 to 2015, with several nations in sub-Saharan Africa rebounding from high death rates due to HIV/AIDS. Child deaths are falling fast, as are 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.

In much of the world, giving birth is safer for mothers and newborns than it has been over the past 25 years. The number of maternal deaths globally dropped by roughly 29 per cent since 1990, and the ratio of maternal deaths fell 30 per cent, from 282 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 196 in 2015.

Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, the coordinating center for the GBD enterprise, Dr. Christopher Murray, said: “Development drives, but does not determine health. We see countries that have improved far faster than can be explained by income, education, or fertility. And we also continue to see countries – including the United States – that are far less healthy than they should be given their resources.”

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Established in 2007, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington in Seattle that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates strategies to address them. IHME makes this information available so that policymakers, donors, practitioners, researchers, and local and global decision-makers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health.


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