Countries urged not to neglect malaria, critical immunisation programmes

According to the WHO, malaria kills 400,000 people every year; 94% of the deaths occur in Africa while 67% are children under the age of five.

A feeding female 'Anopheles sinensis' mosquito on a human hand. Picture: CDC/James Gathany.

JOHANNESBURG – World Health Organization (WHO) Director for Africa Dr Matshediso Moeti said the focus and funding of COVID-19 shouldn’t be allowed to disrupt other immunisation priorities.
Moeti is leading activities to mark World Immunisation Week on the continent.

She said vaccines have helped prevent diseases including TB and malaria.

According to the WHO, malaria kills 400,000 people every year; 94% of the deaths occur in Africa while 67% are children under the age of five.

Moeti said the continent mustn’t let its guard down on immunisation for other diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic, as this can increase the risk of deadly outbreaks.

“A recent analysis has found that if distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets stops and case management is reduced malaria Could double in comparison to 2018. This would be the highest number of deaths seen in the region since the year 2000 so I urge and courage all countries to maintain malaria interventions.”

She said partners should still be fully funded so they can continue to strengthen health systems, support health workers, and save lives.