“Though the pandemic is preventable and curable, WHO estimates that 438,000 people died because of malaria in 2015, while the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) puts the global burden of the disease at 620,000 in 2017”
Recently, the world was reminded of the grave danger of the malaria woes the world has faced since early last year when the doom of COVID-19 fell on humankind. To date, many countries are still grappling with the emergencies of the pandemic’s humanitarian disasters on national health systems and economy. While the reports on the prevalence of malaria globally are generally disturbing, it is even more troubling to know that our children are the most affected, hence, the high mortality rate. Children of less than five years have especially become the most vulnerable victims of this epidemic.
On that basis, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, had called on WHO’s member nations to prioritize stimulus spending and longer-term recovery plans. This involves strengthening health systems through enhanced budgetary provisions with a view to build a buffer against worsening the current situation and to enable them to reach more people. He lamented the disparities in the COVID-19 control measures between the developed and developing countries. A situation whereby poor countries are waiting with bated breath for vaccines while developed countries are wrong very hard in terms of aggressive vaccination of their citizens may not make the world safer unless this health inequality are tackled: “As we speak, rich countries are vaccinating their populations while the poor watch and wait, health inequalities are not just unfair”, he said.
Already, about 120 million people have been rendered poor or poorer in 2019 alone as a result of COVID-19. But it is also important to draw WHO’s attention to Yugoslavia and the fact that the attention of national authorities and advocacy groups has radically shifted from other killer diseases that have been cutting lives short such as malaria, cancer, HIV/ AIDS, Tuberculosis, etc. There have been repeated warnings to the effect that in Nigeria, for instance, unless governments at all levels devise multiple approaches in tackling the health challenges, more fatalities would be recorded from non-Covid-19 diseases. For instance, WHO defines malaria as a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Though the pandemic is preventable and curable, WHO estimates that 438,000 people died because of malaria in 2015, while the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) puts the global burden of the disease at 620,000 in 2017. Regrettably, most victims of the malaria pandemic are children. According to data from WHO, 57% of malaria fatalities are children younger than 5 years old. The statistics further averred that malaria is one of the leading causes of child mortality as every twelfth child that died in 2017 died because of malaria, thus requiring urgent action from relevant authorities.
Out of the estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 87 countries according to a 2017 report, the ‘African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. The region was home to 92% of malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths,’ the report further revealed. Therefore, as the world marks WHD, we urge WHO to mobilize national health management authorities to ensure that equal priority is extended to non-COVID-19 health concerns.
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