Sub-Saharan Africa did not see the doubling of malaria deaths in 2020 that the WHO warned was a possibility
Healthcare disruptions linked to the Covid pandemic helped malaria kill 69,000 more people in 2020 than in the previous year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
In total, over 627,000 people globally – mostly babies in the poorer parts of Africa – died from malaria last year compared to 558,000 in 2019, according to the WHO in its annual malaria report.
The number eclipses the 224,000 people reportedly dead from Covid in Africa since the pandemic began, Reuters reported.
Roughly two-thirds of the additional malaria deaths last year were due to Covid restrictions disrupting prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of malaria, the WHO noted.
However, Sub-Saharan Africa did not see the doubling of malaria deaths in 2020 that the WHO warned was a possibility.
Instead, the number of deaths in the region rose by 12 percent compared with 2019.
“Thanks to urgent and strenuous efforts we can claim that the world has succeeded in averting the worst-case scenario of malaria deaths,” said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria program.
Experts hope that the fight against the mosquito-borne infectious disease will gain ground following the WHO’s recommendation in October that the Mosquirix vaccine should be widely given to children in Africa.
“We can accelerate transformative actions and end malaria within a generation,” said Abdourahmane Diallo, chief executive of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria advocacy group, Reuters reported.
He cited “increased funding, access to life-saving tools, and robust innovation” as ways to stay ahead of the “evolving mosquito and parasite.”