According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria death could rise to 769,000 in Sub-Saharan Africa this year as the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting efforts to curb the disease.
Besides, the region has over 25,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and over 1,200 deaths recorded so far. Therefore, the government’s effort is directed towards fighting the pandemic while working with partners like WHO.
The regional director of WHO in Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, called on all countries not to stop essential malaria prevention.
In a briefing on Thursday, Morti said, “a recent analysis has found that if insecticide-treated bed net distribution stops and case management reduces, malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could double in comparison to 2018.”
She added that these figures would be the highest death toll recorded in the region since 2000.
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Furthermore, she referred to Africa’s Ebola outbreak, noting that other diseases such as malaria killed more people at that time than the actual Ebola. That was due to limited access to treatment.
“Let us not repeat that again with coronavirus,” she said.
Malaria killing Africans
Meanwhile, in 2018 alone, the African region recorded a total of 213 million cases of the disease, with about 360,000 death cases. This accounted for over 90% of global cases.
The WHO noted that if the focus is only on containing the spread of Covid-19, it will lead to a three-quarter reduction in access to antimalarial medicines. Hence, deaths could double to 769,000.
However, the WHO said that countries in this region have an option to minimize disruptions in treatment and prevention of the disease to save lives at this stage of coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, the WHO said the number of death cases doubling represents the worst-case scenario. Which also assumes that the pandemic will cause a suspension in the distribution of treated mosquito nets.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Benin, and Chad still have their anti-malaria programs during the pandemic. WHO is encouraging other nations on the continent to learn from this.
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