According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there could be tens of thousands of additional deaths from malaria this year because of the corona pandemic.
Depending on how severely the malaria health services have been interrupted because of the pandemic, there could be between 20,000 and 100,000 more malaria deaths than expected, most of them children, said Pedro Alonso, the head of the malaria program at the WHO. According to a WHO report published on Monday, around 409,000 people worldwide died of malaria in 2019, most of them in Africa.
According to the report, the number of malaria cases fell slightly from 238 million in 2000 to 229 million in 2019. However, the number of cases has remained almost unchanged over the past four years. “We need renewed engagement in the fight (…) against malaria,” said the WHO director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti. The causative agent of the life-threatening infectious disease is transmitted by a mosquito bite.
The experts criticized that malaria was not getting nearly as much attention and funding as the coronavirus. “It should create outrage that a treatable and preventable disease results in nearly 400,000 deaths each year,” said Moeti.
However, important lessons can be learned from the corona pandemic, said Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. On the one hand, collecting precise data on the course of an outbreak is extremely important in order to be able to take targeted action. On the other hand, it must be recognized that not only the corona virus but also malaria has serious economic consequences for the countries concerned. Finally, according to Sands, it will require significantly more financial resources. The annual global expenditure on the fight against malaria is around three billion dollars (2.5 billion euros). This is actually a shockingly low sum for a disease that “kills more than 400,000 people,” said Sands.
According to the WHO, around 1.45 million people have died from or with Corona so far. According to experts, without the drastic measures it would be many times that.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201130-99-512736 / 3 (dpa)