Malaria deaths rise by 69,000 in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions, WHO says – Community News
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Malaria deaths rise by 69,000 in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions, WHO says

A health officer prepares an anti-malaria injection at Marcory General Hospital in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Oct. 7, 2021. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

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DAKAR, Dec. 6 (Reuters) – Health care disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in malaria killing 69,000 more people in 2020 than the year before, but averted a worst-case scenario, the World Health Organization said Monday.

In total, more than 627,000 people worldwide — most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa — were killed by malaria last year, compared to 558,000 in 2019, the WHO said in its annual malaria report.

The number surpasses the 224,000 people who have died from the coronavirus in Africa since the start of the pandemic.

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About two-thirds of additional malaria deaths in 2020 were due to coronavirus restrictions interfering with malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment, the WHO said.

But despite the challenges of maintaining health services, Sub-Saharan Africa did not double the number of malaria deaths by 2020, which the WHO had warned was a possibility.

Instead, deaths in the region rose 12% compared to 2019, according to WHO data.

“Thanks to urgent and strenuous efforts, we can claim that the world has managed to avert the worst-case scenario of malaria deaths,” said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Program.

Experts hope the fight against malaria will gain significant ground after WHO’s recommendation in October that RTS,S – or Mosquirix – a vaccine developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) should be widely given to children in Africa . read more

“With increased funding, access to life-saving tools and robust innovation in new tools to stay ahead of the evolving mosquito and parasite, we can accelerate transformative action and end malaria within a generation,” said Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to develop the advocacy group for malaria.

“We are now at a critical point and I urge world leaders to re-engage and invest,” he said in a statement.

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Reporting by Alessandra Prentice

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