UNITED NATIONS, Dec 07, (Asia Free Press): Disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic resulted in considerable increases in malaria cases and deaths between 2019 and 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), a Geneva-based UN agency survey reveals.
However, “the doomsday scenario” projected by the WHO has not materialized,” Dr Pedro Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme, said at the launch of the UN agency’s annual World Malaria Report in Geneva, state-run APP reported.
According to the analysis, moderate disruptions in the delivery of malaria services contributed to 14 million malaria cases and 69,000 deaths. Two thirds (or 47,000) of the additional malaria deaths were due to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic.
“The first message is a good news message. Thanks to urgent and strenuous efforts we can claim that the world has succeeded in averting the worst-case scenario of malaria deaths,” Dr Alonso added.
The survey found that only 58 per cent of countries completed their planned campaigns to distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) in 2020, with most experiencing important delays. Globally, 72 per cent of all ITNs planned for distribution had been distributed by the end of 2020, according to a media report.
“In 2020 of the 65 countries who responded, 37 countries reported partial disruptions (5 per cent to 50 per cent) to malaria diagnosis and treatment services, By 2021 15 countries reported partial disruptions (5 per cent- 50per cent), and 6 countries reported severe disruptions” according to a survey.
“We have a better estimate of the real malaria burden and this is now at 627 thousand deaths in 2020”, Dr Alonso said.
Dr Alonso added, “ Two countries – El Salvador and China – were certified malaria-free by WHO in 2021”.
This year’s World malaria report used a new methodology to estimate malaria deaths worldwide, resulting in a larger share (7.8 per cent) of deaths among under-five children than previously recognized (4.8 per cent).