WHO urges countries to move quickly to save lives from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa

05 May 2020

Article: 54/1802

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for disruption to be minimised in malaria prevention and treatment services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes after new modelling analysis demonstrated that severe disruptions to the accessibility of antimalarial medicines and insecticide-treated net (ITN) campaigns could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year, compared to 2018.

The analysis considers nine scenarios for potential disruptions in providing access to core malaria control tools during the pandemic in 41 countries, and the resulting increases that may be seen in cases and deaths. Under the worst-case scenario, in which all ITN 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 20 years ago.

According to the World malaria report 2019, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 93% of all malaria cases and 94% of deaths in 2018. More than two-thirds of deaths were among children under the age of five.

As previously reported, World Malaria Day was marked on 25 April 2020, which highlighted global efforts being made to control malaria.

Source: WHO, 23 April 2020