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Fact Check: Claims by Buhari’s aide on malaria fatalities untrue


The senior special assistant on media and publicity to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari tweeted on March 1 that malaria kills 822 persons in Nigeria every day.

In the tweet, he sought to draw attention to the mosquito-borne disease the same way the Nigerian media have been covering the coronavirus.

Nigeria is one of a few African countries that have reported cases of the virus: Egypt, Algeria and Senegal have announced cases of the virus.


Garba Shehu’s tweet has been retweeted over 700 times and favourited, at least, 1700 times.

By his statistics, it means that malaria kills 300, 030 in a year in Nigeria.

Is his claim true?
World Health Organisation said in the World Malaria Report 2018 that about 218 million cases of malaria were reported globally in 2018. WHO said Nigeria accounted for 25% of that figure.

WHO said five countries accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases worldwide: Nigeria (25%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), Mozambique (5%), India (4%) and Uganda (4%).


Nigeria, Madagascar and DR Congo had the highest estimated increase during the same period.

There were 435,000 malaria deaths in 2017, according to that report and Nigeria accounted for 19% of those fatalities. That means there were 82,650 malaria deaths in Nigeria in 2017.

The World Malaria Report 2019 has more worrisome figures for Nigeria. The report shows that there were an estimated 228 million cases of malaria worldwide.


405,000 malaria deaths were recorded in the same year with Nigeria accounting for “almost 24% of all global malaria deaths, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), the United Republic of Tanzania (5%), and Angola, Mozambique and Niger (4% each).”

24% of 405,000 malaria deaths would mean that Nigeria would have accounted for about 97,200 malaria deaths in 2018.

However, WHO said in the summary of the same report that malaria deaths reduced between 2010 and 2018, noting that “the largest reduction being in Nigeria, from almost 153 000 deaths in 2010 to about 95 000 deaths in 2018.”

If we go by 95, 000 malaria deaths estimate provided by the World Health Organisation, it means that there were approximately 260 malaria deaths in Nigeria daily in 2018. That figure is far lower to the one shared by the presidential aide.


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