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The malaria-carrying mosquito is not in lockdown: the importance of malaria prevention continuing


Recent modelling by the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 could double in comparison to 2018 if malaria prevention activities are reduced or delayed by COVID-19.


The report estimates that in the worst case scenario the number of deaths would reach 769,000, which is equivalent to the mortality level seen 20 years ago. This scenario would arise if COVID-19 were to stop LLIN campaigns and routine LLIN distributions, limit access to effective treatment for malaria and reduce the availability of antimalarial drugs. The model assumes that other forms of malaria prevention would continue (i.e. indoor residual spraying and seasonal malaria chemoprevention), which is not necessarily the case.

There are 27 countries in sub-Saharan Africa planning to carry out LLIN campaigns this year. Together, these countries account for 85% of total malaria cases and deaths in the region. If the campaigns do not take place, the WHO estimates that:

“…malaria cases and deaths will increase by up to 10%, even if access to effective malaria treatment is maintained at current level. It is estimated that there would be between 5 and 17 million additional cases… and up to 30 000 lives would be lost to malaria compared to the 2018 baseline. About 70% of these additional deaths would be of children under the age of 5.”

Furthermore, it is possible that treatment will be affected by the pandemic. Individuals may avoid visiting health centres for malaria diagnoses and treatments for fear of catching the virus, and overstretched health facilities may be unable to provide effective treatment.

AMF is funding nets for LLIN campaigns in four countries in 2020: DRC (13.1m) nets, Uganda (11.6m nets), Togo (3.5m nets) and PNG (1.1m nets).

Currently, all countries are following WHO guidance and intend to continue their net campaigns, and are working on strategies and operational adjustments that will enable nets to be distributed where they are needed while minimising the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Africa registered a 43% jump in reported COVID-19 cases between April 16th and 23rd.

We continue to work with our partners to ensure nets are distributed and the worst impacts laid out in the WHO report are avoided.