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More than 90% of anti-malaria campaigns planned this year across four continents are on track, despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.
The delivery of insecticide-treated nets and provision of antimalarial medicines in the majority of malaria-affected countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas were still going ahead, a high-level meeting organised by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria heard on Thursday.
More than 200m nets are on track to be distributed across more than 30 countries and more than 20 million children in 12 countries across the Sahel are expected to receive essential antimalarial drugs. Kenya, Malawi and Ghana have managed to immunise more than 300,000 children against malaria through a pilot malaria vaccine programme launched last year.
Countries such as El Salvador, Malaysia and China have not registered any malaria cases for three consecutive years, the meeting heard.
“This year, under the worst of circumstances, countries have proven they don’t need to choose between protecting populations from Covid-19 or malaria; they can, and should, do both,” said Abdourahmane Diallo, who heads the RBM – formerly Roll Back Malaria – Partnership to End Malaria.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges faced, it is a remarkable achievement that countries and their partners around the world have successfully sustained planned malaria efforts, including distributing record numbers of insecticide-treated nets, and [are] continuing the march to zero malaria – ensuring that communities remain protected from the deadly mosquito bite,” he said.
In April, the World Health Organization warned that if work to prevent malaria was disrupted by Covid-19, up to 769,000 people could die of the disease this year.
More than 90% of global deaths from malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We must use Covid-19 as an opportunity to learn lessons to improve collaboration and innovation, as well as set our ambitions higher for achieving zero malaria,” said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
After the coronavirus pandemic was declared, the WHO advised governments to adapt their malaria campaigns to protect healthcare workers and people collecting tablets and nets from Covid-19.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Malaria campaigns fight off Covid disruptions to deliver programmes | Global development