In its latest global malaria report, WHO said over 400,000 people died worldwide from malaria in 2019. Most of them are babies in the poorest parts of Africa. The WHO said Covid-19 will certainly increase the death toll in 2020.
The WHO explained that the disruption is due to the Covid-19 pandemic which is affecting the continent’s designed plan to tackle malaria.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are channeling more money into the fight against Covid-19; and to also boost the economies which are suffering due to the pandemic.
The report stated that there were 229 million malaria cases globally in 2019, indicating that even though there have been challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic; several countries in the world had fought hard and held the line against the disease.
But “long-term success in reaching a malaria-free world within a generation is far from assured,” the report stated.
Director of the WHO’s malaria programme, Pedro Alsonso said “Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to Covid-19); … there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa; most of them in young children.”
“It’s very likely that excess malaria mortality is larger than the direct Covid mortality.”
The report added that half the world population is at risk of contracting the disease mainly
because of the mode of transmission of malaria.
It still kills a child every two minutes.
However, global funding and attention have shifted from malaria to tackling Covid-19; making preventable child deaths more likely.
Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, Peter Sands; said the WHO report’s findings were “extremely timely”.
“The global health world, the media, and politics, are all transfixed by Covid,…and yet we pay very little attention to a disease; that is still killing over 400,000 people every year, mainly children. And to remind you, this is a disease we do know how to get rid of – so it is a choice that we don’t.”
He said that attention should be given to malaria just as it is done with Covid-19.