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[ Malaria / COVID-19 co-infection ]

Zero malaria starts with me

“Zero malaria starts with me” is the theme of the World Malaria Day 2020 campaign which takes place every year on April 25th. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, this campaign reminds us of the necessity to pursue the fight against malaria and to increase the fundings to get it. In 2018, WHO estimated 228 million people infected and 405 000 deaths. Among them, children aged under 5 years old still were the most fragile people affected by this disease with 67% of deaths (about 272 000 people)

 

map-cases-malaria

Map of malaria case incidence rate (case per 1000 population at risk) by country, 2018

Source : World malaria report 2019 – WHO estimates

 

What are the challenges of the malaria/COVID-19 co-infection ?

The latest WHO situation report on the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that all African countries with a malaria endemic situation  reported COVID-19 cases. Confronted with this new virus, key questions appear about the malaria/COVID-19 co-infection. These questions were asked during the webinar organized on April 14th by the Global Health Network concerning the impact of the COVID-19 on malaria. Here are some of these challenges :

 

  • Clinical management of the malaria/COVID-19 co-infection

Both malaria and COVID-19 infections present the fever as clinical symptom. In a COVID-19 pandemic context, how the nursing staff should manage people presenting fever in a malaria endemic country ?

Contrary to malaria, no treatment was approved against the COVID-19 at this day. We can ask what is the optimal treatment in case of severe malaria/COVID-19 co-infection ?

Current studies on COVID-19 reported that the most vulnerable people to this virus are the elderly and those with chronical or severe diseases. In contrast, children aged under 5 years old and pregnant women belong to the population at risk of malaria. Does malaria/COVID-19 co-infection influence the prognosis of the illness in these different age groups ?

  • Prevention and control management of malaria/COVID-19 co-infection

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the limits of the healthcare systems in several developed countries. Within the developing African countries, do the health infrastructures have the capacity to effectively respond to this pandemic without significantly affecting the existing care programs ?

In these same countries, without social protection, and where closing down shops is difficult, what could be the enablers for people to adopt social distancing advices ? What will be the impact of these social distancing advices on the malaria preventive actions ?

 

Pursue the fight against malaria

In a press release dated March 25th, WHO encouraged the African governments to maintain their malaria preventing and detection efforts while protecting the nursing staff from the new COVID-19 virus. The malaria worldwide organizations (WHO, RBM partnership and Global Fund) are working with the concerned countries to monitor the potential lack of tools against the disease. Some recommendations for a secure distribution of such tools were also addressed to those countries.

prevention-tools-malaria

2017 World Malaria Day campaign

Source : WHO

 

Thanks to 2018 global efforts, 600 000 lives were saved and 100 million malaria cases prevented. By enhancing mobilization, we can face the current health challenges such as malaria and the new challenges like this COVID-19 pandemic.

Number-cases-malaria

2017 World Malaria Day campaign

Source : WHO

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