Africa in great strides against malaria despite Covid-19

APA - Dakar (Senegal)

Big achievements were recorded last year in the fight against malaria despite the persistence of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The proof is in the numbers! According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have received one or more doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine through a pilot program it coordinated. These immunization campaigns, first launched by the Malawian government in April 2019, demonstrated that the RTS, S malaria vaccine was safe and significantly reduced severe and fatal cases of malaria, the UN agency says.

“This vaccine will be used to prevent malaria in children aged six months to five years and living in settings with moderate to high transmission,” a note received by APA on Monday quoted WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, as saying. WHO estimates that if deployed on a large scale, the liquid could save the lives of 40,000 to 80,000 additional African children each year.

Despite some slowing of progress in reducing malaria cases and deaths and the disruption of health services due to Covid-19, “we are much better off than we were in 2000,” the WHO said. “We need to recreate this momentum and build on recent gains,” said Dr. Moeti, noting that together we can accelerate efforts “to achieve a malaria-free Africa.”

In addition, the UN agency said, seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaigns implemented as planned in 2021 have protected an additional 11.8 million children. In addition, indoor residual spraying and long-lasting insecticide-treated net distribution have been carried out, largely as planned.

While this is a groundbreaking development of new tools that can save millions of lives in the fight against this disease, the WHO notes that available supplies are limited. As such, it is important to ensure that available doses are used for maximum impact, while ensuring the continued availability of other prevention measures for those most at risk.

However, malaria remains a major public health and development problem in the tropics. Last year, about 95 percent of the estimated 228 million cases were detected on the African continent, with 602,020 deaths. The six countries most affected by malaria in the region are estimated to account for nearly 55 percent of the morbidity and 50 percent of the mortality attributable to this disease worldwide.

At the same time, UNITAID, an international drug procurement organization, notes that more than two-thirds of all malaria deaths occur in young children under the age of five in Africa. As such, UNITAID notes that vector control, which targets the mosquitoes that spread the disease, is also a particularly effective and vital component of malaria eradication strategies.

In the fight against malaria, UNITAID intends to promote effective new tools with investments in new generation bed nets that combat the growing resistance of mosquitoes, new spatial repellents, and treatment of people and livestock with a drug that kills the mosquitoes that bite them.


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