The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to move fast and distribute malaria prevention and treatment tools at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak in sub-Saharan Africa, and to do their utmost to safely maintain these essential malaria control services.
To date, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa has represented only a small proportion of the global total, though cases are increasing every week.
In Zimbabwe , the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicated that most of the cases were reported in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East.
“The cumulative figures of malaria are 135 585 and 131 deaths, a total 201 malaria outbreaks have been reported throughout the country mostly from Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East. 90 outbreaks have been controlled,” the ministry said.
“This week, 18,690 malaria cases and 17 deaths were reported. Of the reported cases 1935 (10.4 %) were from the under five years old.”
The W.HO. said countries still have a window of opportunity as cases are still few in the whole region.
“This means that countries across the region have a critical window of opportunity to minimize disruptions in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Mass vector control campaigns should be accelerated while ensuring that they are deployed in ways that protect health workers and communities against potential COVID-19 transmission,” said the organisation.
WHO and partners commend the leaders of Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Chad for initiating ITN campaigns during the pandemic.
Other countries are adapting their net distribution strategies to ensure households receive the nets as quickly and safely as possible.
The organisation said preventive therapies for pregnant women and children must be maintained.
“The provision of prompt diagnostic testing and effective antimalarial medicines are also essential to prevent a mild case of malaria from progressing to severe illness and death,” the statement further stated.