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Fight against Malaria June 2020 update
(Set of articles in supplement to Guardian newspaper 03/06/2020)
In the Guardian supplement of 3 June 2020, an update is provided on the global fight against malaria, a tropical disease for which no vaccine is yet available. Progress this year is dominated by the impact of the Covid 19 virus has had and could have on the global partnership to Roll Back Malaria.
Progress with fighting malaria
Since the early 2000s, this Partnership has made investments in health care and treatment which has resulted in the saving of almost 600,000 deaths and 100 million cases of malaria annually. However as Dr Diallo, the Partnership CEO, observed “ there is still much to be done with malaria as it is among the leading causes of child mortality in Africa”.
“ Moreover, as long as malaria exists, it threatens the poorest and most vulnerable and has the potential to resurge in times of public health crises like the current Covid 19 pandemic”.
Progress has been achieved by a variety of means including –
Distribution of improved insecticide treated bed nets
Development of rapid diagnostic tests to determine whether the malaria parasite is present in the blood
Effective medicines to cure those who are sick
Preventive approaches to stop infections before they occur
The scale of the problem is illustrated by the incidence in one country, Benin, where in 2018, one in six persons were infected with the disease.
A further cause for concern is the emerging resistance to currently used insecticides of both the malaria carrying mosquitos and the malaria parasite itself.
Possible impact of Covid 19 virus
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that “Covid 19 could cause malaria deaths to double” as hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed by persons ill with the Covid 19 virus whileCovid 19 restrictions have limited the distribution of insecticide treated bed nets, the main form of protection against the anopheles mosquito which is active at night.
Within an African context, fever is much more likely to be a symptom of malaria than the Covid virus but many individuals are not seeking treatment nor being screened for malaria.
There is also the concern that malaria and poverty are interrelated and that poverty may only be alleviated if the incidence of malaria can be managed.
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