The World Health Organization has warned that the deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the COVID_19 pandemic to services designed to tackle the disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the WHO, It’s very likely that excess malaria mortality is larger than the direct COVID_19 mortality.
The latest global malaria report by the WHO shows that more than 409,000 people globally, most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa were killed by malaria last year, and COVID-19 will almost certainly make that toll higher in 2020.
“Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to COVID-19) … there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them in young children,” Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO’s malaria program, told reporters.
The WHO report found there were 229 million malaria cases globally in 2019, and said that despite the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world had fought hard and held the line against the disease.
Additionally, due to the ongoing transmission of malaria via mosquitoes in many parts of the world, half the global population is at risk of contracting the disease and it still kills a child every two minutes according to the WHO report.
The focus of global funding and attention has been diverted, making preventable child deaths more likely. The WHO said Countries are paying very little attention to a disease that is still killing over 400,000 people every year, mainly children. The WHO warned.
Meanwhile, The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also demanded countries to take urgent actions to protect children from measles and polio epidemics.
The agencies called upon nations to take action because millions of children are missing out on immunization against polio and measles as COVID-19 continues to disrupt immunization services worldwide.
The WHO and UNICEF estimated that 655million dollars (400million dollars for polio and 255million dollars for measles) are needed to address dangerous immunity gaps.
According to WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus, COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on health services and immunization services worldwide.
The Poliovirus transmission is expected to increase in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and in many under-immunized areas of Africa. Vaccination coverage gaps for both Polio and Measles have been further exacerbated in 2020 by COVID-19.