By Ihechi Enyinnaya
The African Media and Malaria Research Network, has urged African countries to step up the fight against malaria and ensure that the disease is eliminated in the region in 2025.
The group stated this in a press statement to commemorate the 2021 World Malaria Day,emphasising that the day provides another opportunity for countries to focus on malaria and step up the fight against the disease.
Part of the statement read: “The theme for the Day is ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me/ Draw the Line Against Malaria’, a theme which builds on the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign movement started nearly three yyears ago.
“The idea for choosing a theme similar to the one used in previous years is to highlight the successes of countries around the world and to inspire a new group of countries that have the potential to eliminate the disease by 2025.
“Over the past two decades, great progress has been made in the malaria fight, saving more than seven (7) million lives and preventing over 1 billion new malaria cases.
“In 2019, the global tally off malaria cases was 229 million and the disease claimed some 409 000 lives in 2019 compared to 411 000 in 2018. The African Region for its part continues to shoulder more than 90% of the overall disease burden.
“Since 2000, the region has reduced its malaria death toll by 44%, from an estimated 680 000 to 384 000 annually. However, progress has slowed in recent years, particularly in countries with a high burden of the ddisease.
“The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), a Pan-African media advocacy group of journalists and scientists working together to rid the world of malaria, thinks that it is not acceptable that thousands of people, mainly children and pregnant women continue to die needlessly of a disease that could be prevented and treated. AMMREN is therefore urging all stakeholders to step up the fight against malaria.
“The emergence of COVID-19 in 2020, posed an additional challenge to the provision of essential health services worldwide and threatened to disrupt malaria prevention efforts. At the start of the
pandemic, the WHO had estimated that malaria deaths could double in the worst-case scenario.
“However, many countries and partners responded quickly and effectively to protect decades of progress made against malaria, ensuring campaigns were delivered on time.”