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Policy & Global Development

What Impact Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Had on the Fight Against Malaria?

Series | COVID-19 and other pandemics #47


[This document forms part of a series of discussion notes notes addressing fundamental questions about global health. Its purpose is to transfer scientific knowledge into the public conversation and the decision-making process. These documents are based on the best information available and may be updated as new information comes to light.]

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken us back to mortality figures similar to those of a decade ago. Numbers in 2020 showed a 12% increase in malaria related mortality globally, and up to 14 million additional infections compared to 2019. A considerable proportion of that increase (two-thirds of the new deaths) may be attributable to disruptions in the provision of prevention, diagnosis and treatment services for the disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, observed predominantly in Africa, where more than 95% of patients and global deaths from malaria are concentrated.

If in the years leading up to the pandemic it was already predicted that the ambitious 2030 malaria control and elimination targets would not be met, it is now clear that this will not be possible unless the accelerator is not pushed and malaria is brought at the frontline of our health priorities.

The reaction to COVID-19 pandemic has proved that the success in the fight against a particular disease is a matter of willingness. Increased financial support, strengthened malaria programmes and faster progress in research and product development are essential.

This paper was written by Rosauro Varo and Quique Bassat (ISGlobal), and is part of a series dedicated to the impact of COVID-19 on other pandemics.