Malaria Deaths Could Double By End Of 2020 – NMEP 

July 29, 2020
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The National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) has cautioned that malaria prevention and treatment disruptions due to the COVID 19 pandemic could double malaria deaths in Sub-saharan Africa by end of the year.

The national coordinator, NMEP, Federal Ministry of Health, DR. Audu Mohammed, who gave the caution during a media chat, yesterday in Abuja, said a recent analysis showed that malaria deaths in the region would exceed malaria deaths globally in 2000.

Represented by the Head, Advocacy Communication and Social Mobilisation (ACSM), Mr Chukwu Okoronkwo, the national coordinator said “Recent projections suggest that where most prevention activities are cancelled or delayed, and malaria services like insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines experience severe disruption, then malaria deaths in Sub-sahara Africa could double by the end of this year.

“Under the worst-case scenario presented in an analysis that was done, the death toll in sub-saharan Africa in 2020 would exceed the total number of malaria deaths reported globally in the year 2000,” said Audu.

According to him, it is therefore critical that Nigeria and other malaria-endemic countries minimise any disruptions of malaria prevention and treatment during the COVID-19 response given that failure to do so could lead to catastrophic loss of lives.

He, however, expressed concerns by community members seeking appropriate care as COVID-19 entry symptoms are same as those of malaria.

These concerns, he said are associated with fear of exposure to COVID-19, further delays at health facilities, and stigmatisation, adding that the concerns may have further been compounded by the hype on mortalities associated with COVID-19 and existing measures to suppress the pandemic such as restrictions on use of public transport, all of which could further hinder access to care.

According to Audu, “Community sensitisation and mobilisation around the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria have been key features of our programme implementation – but these have now become critical in the context of the pandemic.

“You may wish to recall that the theme for World Malaria Day 2020 was: “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” and the accompanying slogan was: “Your Fever Could Be Malaria – Get Tested”. This slogan is still apt as there is need for every person with fever to first test for malaria to rule this out before going for further investigations.”

He also stated that the NMEP intends to ensure access to and use of ITNs are maintained through campaigns that are adapted to protect health workers and communities from COVID-19 and continue case management of malaria, including prompt diagnostic testing and treatment.

He said “This is the time to implore the Nigerian populace to take the necessary preventive measures to avoid getting sick with malaria such as sleeping inside the net every night, having screens on doors and windows (for those that can afford it), pregnant women uptake of preventive medicines at regular intervals during pregnancy, and ensuring children below 5 years in the region are brought out to have preventive medicines during the SMC campaigns.”

“Recent projections suggest that where most prevention activities are cancelled or delayed, and malaria services like insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines experience severe disruption, then malaria deaths in Sub-sahara Africa could double by the end of this year.

“Under the worst-case scenario presented in an analysis that was done, the death toll in sub-saharan Africa in 2020 would exceed the total number of malaria deaths reported globally in the year 2000,” said Mohammed.

According to him, it is therefore critical that Nigeria and other malaria-endemic countries minimise any disruptions of malaria prevention and treatment during the COVID-19 response given that failure to do so could lead to catastrophic loss of lives.

He, however, expressed concerns by community members seeking appropriate care as COVID-19 entry symptoms are same as those of malaria.

These concerns, he said are associated with fear of exposure to COVID-19, further delays at health facilities, and stigmatisation, adding that the concerns may have further been compounded by the hype on mortalities associated with COVID-19 and existing measures to suppress the pandemic such as restrictions on use of public transport, all of which could further hinder access to care.

According to Mohammed, “Community sensitisation and mobilisation around the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria have been key features of our programme implementation – but these have now become critical in the context of the pandemic.

“You may wish to recall that the theme for World Malaria Day 2020 was: “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” and the accompanying slogan was: “Your Fever Could Be Malaria – Get Tested”. This slogan is still apt as there is need for every person with fever to first test for malaria to rule this out before going for further investigations.”

He also stated that the NMEP intends to ensure access to and use of ITNs are maintained through campaigns that are adapted to protect health workers and communities from COVID-19 and continue case management of malaria, including prompt diagnostic testing and treatment.

He said “This is the time to implore the Nigerian populace to take the necessary preventive measures to avoid getting sick with malaria such as sleeping inside the net every night, having screens on doors and windows (for those that can afford it), pregnant women uptake of preventive medicines at regular intervals during pregnancy, and ensuring children below 5 years in the sahelian region are brought out to have preventive medicines during the SMC campaigns.”

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