Deaths from malaria could double if the fight against coronavirus comes at the expense of anti-malaria efforts. Deaths caused by malaria could increase in Africa if we let the coronavirus pandemic to obstruct malaria prevention and treatment initiatives
In 2014, Sierra Leone – alongside Liberia and Guinea – battled a devastating Ebola outbreak. This deadly challenge taught us a lot; the importance of tackling misinformation, ensuring fast testing and treatment. However, thousands of Africans lost their lives to the virus.
This was a tragedy for the continent because we lost even more lives to malaria in the course of fighting Ebola. Malaria has been a long-standing enemy in Africa, with 213 million cases in 2018.
Many African countries struggle with malaria, reason why all 55 heads of state of the African Union launched the continent-wide Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign in July 2018. Since then, the pan-African movement that calls for all citizens to take ownership of the fight to end malaria has become stronger. So far, 15 countries have now launched the campaign nationally.
According to Researchers from Imperial College London, an estimated record 228 million long-lasting ipnsecticidal nets (LLINs) are ready for delivery across Sub-Saharan Africa this year. They have called for “swift action” to prevent malaria and Covid-19 from overwhelming health systems.
Covid-19 comes In
However, the progress against malaria is under threat today. COVID-19 is taking hold of public health efforts. There is therefore a high chance for Malaria death to double in 2020-World Health Organisation.
The fight against COVID-19 should not come at the detriment of the mission to end malaria. It is crucial that countries across Africa continue to scale up their malaria programmes and ensure that Anti-Malaria programs remain a priority. This mosquito-borne disease continues to claim the lives of over 400,000 people each year globally.
We need to take quick measures as the rainy season, the period of peak malaria transmission is already here.
The development and increased distribution of treated mosquito nets over the last two decades are responsible for the roughly 68% of the prevented malaria cases in Africa. They are just one element of a successful malaria control programme; an important one that empowers communities to protect themselves against mosquitos.
Meanwhile, the distribution of these nets do not come without hitches. Key malaria products Supply chains are struggling. COVID-19 has put brave community health workers at high risk even with protective equipment and government campaigns encouraging “less touching”.
African countries must continue to increase malaria Programmes despite the overwhelming presence of Covid-19.