In the midst of our efforts towards malaria elimination, COVID-19 has grasped our attention as a new, dangerous, and still poorly understood threat.
We collectively seek to end COVID for the same reasons we seek to end malaria. We fight both COVID-19 and malaria because they limit development at the family, community, and national levels. We fight both COVID-19 and malaria because they squelch economic opportunities for families and nations. Ultimately, we fight both COVID-19 and malaria because they steal our precious and rich lives, and even one life lost prematurely is one life too many.
Though COVID-19 is still poorly understood, we know how to prevent, diagnose, and cure malaria. The loss of 430,000 people each year to malaria is not inevitable. Now, more than ever, we must not let ourselves become distracted from the efforts that we know contribute to malaria’s elimination.
Worryingly, a modelling analysis from the World Health Organization shows that a de-prioritization of malaria interventions could lead to a doubling of malaria deaths. Under the worst-case scenario, in which all insecticide-treated net campaigns are suspended and there is a 75% reduction in access to effective antimalarial medicines, the estimated tally of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 would reach 769,000, twice the number of deaths reported in the region in 2018. This would represent a return to malaria mortality levels last seen in the year 2000.
Now is a time for malaria partners to unite to fight. We’re joining the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in calling attention to the critical need to maintain the gains the world has made towards malaria elimination.
Led by The Global Fund, The Unite To Fight campaign highlights the critical role health workers in saving lives.
As part of this campaign, we will be sharing insights and brief stories from communities where the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative is working in partnership with national malaria control and elimination programs to defeat malaria.
In the coming weeks, we will share the efforts of malaria activists and health workers like Emmanuel Mutoya from Western Province, Zambia, who continue to fight each and every day for malaria elimination.