The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the number of malaria deaths in Africa could double to 769,000.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti urged all countries to ensure that essential malaria prevention work continues as efforts to curb the disease are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, NAN reports.
The WHO warned that if more focus on curbing the spread of the coronavirus leads to a reduction by three-quarters of access to antimalarial medicines, deaths could double to 769,000.
“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.
“This would be the highest number of deaths seen in the region since the year 2000,” Moeti said at a briefing.
“During the Ebola outbreak, more people died of other diseases, including malaria, than from Ebola itself, due to lack of access to treatment.
“Let us not repeat that with COVID-19,” she said.
She noted that African countries, however, have a critical window of opportunity to minimize disruptions in malaria treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In 2018, there were 213 million malaria cases and 360,000 related deaths in the African region, accounting for over 90 per cent of global cases.