Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is a hurdle that risks stalling or at worst, rolling back the gains made in the fight against malaria in Africa.
He noted that the pressure the pandemic has put on the continents health systems, if not well managed, has the potential to disrupt provision of not only Malaria services but also other important healthcare interventions.
“Therefore, as we confront this new global health challenge, we are required to strike a balance between our response to Covid-19 and sustaining our efforts against existing health threats such as malaria,” said the Kenyan leader as the world marks World Malaria Day.
Kenyatta who is also the Chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), warned the failure to scale up prevention measures, an upsurge in malaria cases could overwhelm Africa’s overburdened health systems.
“We should therefore continue strengthening our health systems especially at the sub-national and community levels by considering an integrated approach to managing the Covid-19 whereby malaria services are offered as part of the essential health package,” said Kenyatta.
He said that Kenya is continuing to scale up malaria prevention efforts through the distribution of over 15 million treated mosquito nets this year to cover 25 million vulnerable Kenyans even as the country heightens its fight against covid-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization(WHO) has already warned that malaria cases in Africa may double this year compared to 2018, and 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.
According to WHO, the estimated tally of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 would reach 769 000, twice the number of deaths reported in the region in 2018.
WHO further sad that this would represent a return to malaria mortality levels last seen 20 years ago.