The World Health Organization warned on November 30 that the number of malaria and malaria deaths worldwide has not decreased significantly from 2016 to 2019, and the number of malaria deaths this year may rise due to the coronavirus epidemic occupying medical service resources. In poor areas of Africa, the number of malaria deaths may even increase than the number of local coronavirus deaths.
According to the Global Malaria Report 2020 released by WHO on the same day, 229 million malaria cases were reported globally in 2019, basically the same level since 2016; the number of deaths fell rapidly at one time, compared with an estimated 409,000 deaths last year, compared with 41 deaths in 2018. There is no significant change in the comparison of 10,000. Most of them are infants and young children in the poorest areas of Africa, and the coronavirus epidemic has “almost certainly” pushed up this year’s figure.
Pedro Elsonso, director of the WHO Anti-Malaria Program, said at a press conference: “We estimate that depending on the extent of the impact on medical services (due to the novel coronavirus)… the number of deaths due to malaria in sub-Saharan Africa (this year) may be 20,000 to 100,000 more, mostly young children. Those additional malaria deaths are likely to exceed those directly from COVID-19.”
Many countries are working to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and control malaria cases from rising, but “it is difficult to ensure the long-term goal of eliminating malaria worldwide in a generation,” the report said.
Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the WHO report was “extremely timely” because the global health system, media and politics are currently focusing on the coronavirus epidemic and pay little attention to malaria.” And to remind everyone that this is a disease we know how to get rid of.”
Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, and more than 90% of malaria cases are in Africa. African leaders committed to halving malaria deaths within 10 years in 2000 and have so far successfully reduced the number of malaria deaths by 44% to 384,000 per year. However, with the reduction of investment, the progress in recent years has not been obvious. WHO calls on countries to “strengthen the targeting of interventions, develop new tools, and increase financial input to change the global trajectory of malaria”.