World Malaria Day 2020: Zero Malaria Starts With Me!!!
April 25 is set aside every year to commemorate World Malaria Day to raise awareness of the global effort to control and ultimately eradicate malaria. This year's theme is "Zero Malaria Starts with Me" which aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.
As at 2018, there were an estimated 228 million cases of malaria in 89 countries. No significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2014 to 2018. The estimated number of malaria deaths in 2018 stood at 405 000, a similar number to the previous year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria still claims the life of a child every two minutes, as millions of people are living in slums and overcrowded informal settlements that do not have toilets and are surrounded by stagnant water bodies, making them a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Nigeria suffers the world’s greatest malaria burden, with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths reported annually (approximately 30 % of the total malaria burden in Africa), while 97 % of the total population (approximately 173 million) is at risk of infection. Moreover, malaria accounts for 60 % of outpatient visits to hospitals and led to approximately 11 % maternal mortality and 30 % child mortality, especially among children less than 5 years.
As COVID-19 spreads rapidly around the world, there is need to ensure the continuity of malaria services. Furthermore, national and local programmes should continue to provide core preventive and case management interventions for malaria (and other communicable diseases/conditions affecting the population). The continued provision of these interventions is essential to save lives.
The government should ensure continued access to and use of recommended insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITNs), with distributions organized to avoid large gatherings of people, and permit physical distancing of distributors and beneficiaries while adhering to local safety protocols.