A call for action by a young leader in the fight against malaria on world malaria day 2022.
COVID 19 PANDEMIC AND THE EFFECTS ON MALARIA
Julieth Benjamin (Medical Student|RAM Global Rotaractor)
As the whole world is on strike of the existing COVID19 pandemic, which has affected us Globally, as of 6:15pm CEST, 12 April 2022, 497,960,492 confirmed cases, including 6,181,850 deaths, reported to WHO. Efforts to combat other diseases like malaria have been extremely jeopardized. A lot of attention and resources have been allocated to fighting the pandemic while other diseases are on rise. For example, according to WHO World Malaria report of 2021, there was a 12% increase of malaria deaths in the year 2020.
In many ways, Covid 19 has impacted other public health and community health issues such as diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases. Several factors and strategies taken to control the pandemic such as lock-down, physical distancing, quarantine and isolation led to a remarkable decrease in some of malaria control programs such as provision of insecticide treated nets, intermittent preventive therapies, indoor residual spraying and chemo prevention of young women and children at community level.
In March 2020, the then director of WHO Global Malaria Program, Dr. Pedro Alonso stated the importance of continuing with malaria prevention strategies despite the pandemic as these programs will lead to a marked decrease of malaria prevalence. It is imperative that as COVID19 pandemic effects continues to decline Globally opening a path to a new normal we in parallel uplift malaria elimination efforts to ensure that everyone is safe from this tragic disease.
An increase in malaria cases from 227 million in 2019 to 241 million in 2020 is totally unacceptable and can only be beaten if we all unite to end the malaria burden alongside the pandemic which has proved to be worsening the situation. Malaria is a threat to the economy of countries especially in the sub-Saharan Africa where over 90% of the burden resides. It is a threat to the future as it kills a child under 5 years of age in every minute.
COVID19 has even opened our eyes more to how the health system of the world is interconnected, reminding us that no one is safe until all are safe. As a young champion against malaria, I call upon global leaders to come together and mitigate the effects of the pandemic to give a path to world free from malaria, where a pregnant woman is free from the intimidation that comes with the disease, where lives of children under five are well guaranteed and elders are freely working and producing without suffering the financial burden of battling with fevers chills, malaise and anemia caused by malaria infections.
I further call on fellow youth to bring in their insightful ideas, innovations and creativity to battle the pandemic and as well pave a way to realize a world without malaria.
Finally, I thank organizations like Rotarians Against Malaria Global for giving opportunities to young people to contribute in the fight against malaria and for giving them resources to do so. We are truly the generation that can end malaria. Keep investing on us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julieth Benjamin is a third-year medical student at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College. She is a well motivated Junior health practitioner who also has interests in research, leadership, and events planning. Julieth also serves as a General Secretary of Tanzania Medical Student Association (TAMSA) in Kilimanjaro and a Rotaractor member of Rotarian Against Malaria Global (RAM -GLOBAL).