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90% of life-saving interventions still on track -Official

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, over 90 per cent of life-saving malaria intervention campaigns scheduled for this year are still on track.

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria made this known in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES.

It said the campaigns are still ongoing across Africa, Asia and the Americas to avoid severe increase in malaria cases and deaths.

It noted that countries on the verge of reaching zero malaria cases are also maintaining their focus on eliminating this preventable and treatable disease.

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria is the largest global platform for coordinated action against malaria.

Malaria is mostly caused by plasmodium falciparum vivax parasites. This is usually transmitted through the female anopheles mosquito.

The World Health Organization had in April warned that malaria deaths could double due to severe disruptions to essential malaria programmes as the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

To prevent this, the organisation said malaria-affected countries in collaboration with global malaria stakeholders mobilised to safely deliver life-saving malaria interventions.”

In 2018, there were 228 million malaria cases and 360,000 related deaths in the African region, accounting for over 90 per cent of global cases.

Prevention

The RBM partnership appealed to global leaders to prioritise the health of pregnant women and their unborn children to prevent consequences caused by malaria in pregnancy.

It said the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to antenatal care, malaria diagnosis and treatment and other routine health services.

This, the organisation said, has made pregnant women and children remain vulnerable to the disease which has claimed many lives globally.

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“Good health starts with proper care of pregnant women and children. Protecting pregnant women, their unborn babies and newborns from malaria will improve the health of mothers and their young children in those critical first years of life and can contribute towards the achievement of Africa’s broad health and development goals,” the First Lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akuffo-Addo said.

An estimated 11 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa were infected with malaria in 2018 resulting in nearly 900,000 children born with a low birthweight, a leading cause of child mortality.

The organisation noted that more than two-thirds of eligible women across 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa did not receive the full course of life-saving preventive treatment against malaria during pregnancy in 2018.

It has, however, launched its ‘Speed Up Scale Up’ to increase coverage of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with at least three doses of a quality-assured antimalarial (sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, or SP) to all eligible women in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.”

The Deputy Director of Reproductive Health, Directorate-General of Health and Public Hygiene, Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, Mali, Aminata Traore, called for the expansion of IPTP therapy in other countries.

She noted that IPT for pregnancy is simple and cost-effective; saves newborn lives and prevents adverse outcomes on child development.

“IPTp-SP needs to be expanded substantially in all countries where it is a recommended intervention,” ahe said.

She urged health officials to sustain efforts to prevent, detect, and treat malaria among pregnant women and other populations at risk.



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