The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that Africa could record up to 769,000 Malaria deaths by end of the year and called on all countries in the continent to increase the disease prevention procedures so as to reduce mortality figures to barest minimum.
It said that existing health realities concerning the global coronavirus pandemic had shifted focus of most countries and organizations to tackling the novel viral infection while disrupting the continent’s malaria response.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said that malaria prevention was essential, especially in the sub-saharan region, and that such disruption could lead to an over 50 percent increase in mortality recorded from the disease.
Moeti, while speaking to newsmen during a briefing on Thursday, stated that countries which had put all resources into curtailing the deadly coronavirus infection within their borders, needed to take care that malaria preventive measures such as insecticide-treated bed net distribution were not discontinued.
She explained that continued implementation of such measures would aid malaria prevention and reduce incidence as well as possible deaths to the disease.
Moeti said that statistical evidence had proved that during disease outbreaks, more people died due to preventable illnesses than from the pandemic of the time, and urged African countries to avoid such occurrence by ensuring that adequate attention was given to malaria prevention and management.
“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”,
“Statistics from Africa’s Ebola outbreak also shows that more people died of other diseases, including Malaria, than from Ebola itself, due to lack of access to treatment. Let us not repeat that again with COVID-19,” she said.
She said that the predicted number of deaths was worse case scenario which African governments should aim away from and called for the implementation of adequate malaria prevention programs and provision of proper management facilities in each country.