Published On: Sat, Apr 25th, 2020

Fight Against Spread Of COVID-19 Can Reverse Effort On Malaria -Expert

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News Investigators/ A malaria expert professor, Olugbenga Mokuolu, says efforts toward reducing malaria globally, can be reversed, as attention is totally shifted to war against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Mokuolu, who is the National Technical Director at the National Malaria Elimination Programme,  made the assertion in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos.

World Malaria Day is an international observance,  commemorated every April 25 in recognition of the global efforts to control malaria.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria globally.

Mokuolu said: ”For now, we don’t have evidence if there is direct relationship between Coronavirus and malaria.

“From the point of response, action that has been necessitated in account of COVID-19 have implication on malaria.

“Except we are very deliberate in making sure that the gains and efforts made to reduce malaria burden are not reversed, because attention is totally shifted toward Coronavirus.

“We have a lockdown and a restriction of movement, from these perspectives, there are challenges implementing some malaria intervention, as well as accessing malaria services.

“We are doing our best and also trying to mininise the effect line.”

He said that the current pandemic could affect the needed funds for malaria in the nearest future.

“COVID-19 has attracted so much funding, and there is a lot of diversion of funds in the fight against the virus globally.

“For malaria, the funding strain is not supposed to be affected because interventions and commitment for malaria are planned ahead of time.

“Ideally, funding is not the most critical issue, but as we continue and the world economy is affected by Coronavirus, the capacity to give funding for malaria and other diseases will be compromised.

“So, we foresee the danger of compromise to malaria funding going down the line in not too distance future,” the expert said.

He advised the Federal Government to be resilient in its response in reducing the mortality rate attributed to malaria and other diseases.

“In Nigeria, 81, 000 deaths are attributed directly to malaria and there are indirectly related deaths which even make the figure higher.

“The capacity of a system to respond to an unforeseen situation without totally disrupting an established system should be adopted, which is resilience.

“As a nation, we cannot behave like a child and bury our head suddenly that all other mortality are not going to occur.

“If we stop the malaria intervention and scale back things, we run the danger of having a rebound on the mortality,” he said. 

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