Niger: Fighting Malaria To Save Children

07 February 2017

Banner: Sam Phelps / Catholic Relief Services

Malaria claims the life of one child every two minutes. The disease killed 429,000 people in 2015, of which approximately 70 percent were children under 5.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, is particularly affected. The majority of the population is at risk of the disease with more than half of people living in high transmission areas. Despite numerous challenges such as political instability, chronic food insecurity and natural disasters, Niger is making remarkable progress against the disease. And as the number of malaria cases go down, so does the child mortality rate.

Dominique Guinot / Catholic Relief Services

The burden of malaria is overwhelmingly borne by young children and pregnant women. New tools such as rapid diagnostic tests, long lasting insecticide-treated nets and artemisinin-based combination therapies have proven effective ways to combat the disease. Worldwide, malaria mortality rates among children under 5 fell by 69 percent between 2000 and 2015.

In Niger, the successful 2015 and 2016 mass distribution campaigns reached 98 percent of the targeted population, allowing the country to make substantial progress toward the goal of universal bed net coverage. The number of malaria-related deaths declined by 24 percent between 2005 and 2015.

With the decline of malaria cases in Niger, child mortality has also plummeted. Chronic malnutrition and diarrhea remain a serious challenge to further lowering child mortality in the country. The Global Fund supports local partners to implement the national malaria control strategy, a comprehensive approach combining education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The Global Fund / Sarah Hoibak

Seven-year-old Abdulrazim and his worried mother await a doctor at the district health center of Say in Niger. Abdulrazim is suspected to be suffering from malaria. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is vital to defeating the disease.

The Global Fund / Sarah Hoibak

A rapid diagnostic test confirmed Abdulrazim had malaria. Rapid diagnostic tests are a reliable means of detecting malaria, particularly in remote areas with underequipped health facilities. Their availability has made a tremendous difference at the community level.

The Global Fund / Sarah Hoibak

A nurse immediately put Abdulrazim on treatment, with artemisinin-based combination therapy. Malaria can be fatal – particularly for young children like Abdulrazim – if treatment is delayed beyond 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. As of mid-2016, programs supported by the Global Fund had provided 626 million treatments for malaria worldwide.

The Global Fund / Sarah Hoibak

Abdulrazim and his mother walk home after receiving the antimalarial medication at the health center called ‘Case de Santé’ – satellites of integrated health centers that provide remote communities access to lifesaving treatment. As of end 2015, the Global Fund partnership had saved 31,300 lives in Niger.

The Global Fund / Sarah Hoibak

Aminata and her baby boy wait under the shades of the district health center for a check-up. The Global Fund partnership invests heavily in sustainable integrated health care systems and infrastructure to provide quality health care. Through Global Fund-supported programs, 29 laboratories within health centers have been rehabilitated in Niger.

Sam Phelps / Catholic Relief Services

Aichatou hangs a mosquito net she received from a mass distribution campaign. Sleeping under an insecticide-treated net contributes significantly to reducing malaria cases among children. As of mid-2016, 13 million nets have been distributed in Niger through Global Fund-supported programs.

Michael Stulman / Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services and the Global Fund launched CRuSh Malaria – a campaign to expand access to antimalarial medication for children in Niger. The campaign aims to contribute to the reduction of the number of malaria cases among children under 5 by 60 percent. Providing preventative malaria treatment before the peak rainy season has led to a significant decline in severe malaria in children under 5 in the country.

Flickr / Christoph Rupprecht / License

Niger is one of the least developed countries in the world, facing a number of challenges such as desert terrain, high fertility rates, chronic food insecurity, natural disasters and security concerns in the border areas. The combination of these factors has a dramatic impact on child mortality rates. The Global Fund uses a flexible approach to deliver needed services and medicines in challenging operating environments such as Niger.