The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its 2021 Annual Malaria Report with some key findings highlighting the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020.

“In 2020, we are seeing a dramatic increase in malaria cases and deaths due to the negative impact of Covid-19,” says Sherwin Charles, co-founder of Goodbye Malaria.

A WHO report shows that malaria is still a major health problem in the African region. Between 2000 and 2019, global malaria deaths before the pandemic fell steadily from 896,000 in 2000 to 562,000 in 2015 and 558,000 in 2019.

Since then, Covid-19 has thrown a wrench in the works.

“We saw more than 228 million cases of malaria on the African continent in 2020. Africa accounted for 95% of the world’s malaria cases and 96% of all malaria deaths. This means that an estimated 627,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa lost their lives to malaria last year. That’s a 12% increase in deaths compared to 2019,” Charles said.

Children are the worst affected, with 80% of all malaria deaths in the region occurring in children under the age of five.

“Almost half a million children died from malaria in 2020,” Charles said. This is in line with the findings of the 2021 Malaria Report, which found that one child died of malaria every minute on the African continent, compared to a previously reported rate of every two minutes before the pandemic.

Resources are diverted

A WHO report shows that this increase in cases and deaths is due to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the Covid pandemic.

The malaria community has diverted resources from diagnosing and treating the disease due to the Covid pandemic.

“There was a disruption in the supply chain, resulting in a shortage of anti-malarial goods in the country. The number of people with malaria visiting health centers and clinics and seeking treatment has also decreased,” said Charles.

All these factors contributed to the increase in both the number of malaria cases and the number of deaths during the Covid pandemic, he said.

An ongoing battle

Charles called on African governments and private sector partners to step up their efforts to ensure the region does not lose more ground to this preventable and treatable disease, including strengthening primary health care and increasing domestic and international investment.

“By strengthening health systems, investing in current malaria control efforts, and accelerating the development and implementation of new interventions, we can once again achieve rapid reductions in malaria deaths and infections, increase the resilience of countries to current and future pandemics, and save millions more lives.” lives This will allow us to end malaria within a generation.”

“Zero malaria starts with me”

He reiterated that innovation in new tools is a critical strategy to accelerate progress. “One of the most important new prevention tools is RTS,S, the first vaccine ever recommended by the WHO against human parasites,” he said.

“Malaria can be eradicated. It is time for us to increase our investment in malaria control to ensure that our most vulnerable populations have access to diagnosis and treatment, and that we reach those living in the most rural areas. We cannot stop from the accelerator as we need to get back on track to achieve our ECG goals of eliminating malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We need to step up our advocacy in our communities to make sure that malaria can be eradicated, to make sure that they take the necessary steps to protect themselves from this terrible disease.

“We need to get the message out that ‘Zero Malaria starts with me.’

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